“…they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord…” Acts 12:10
Sight sees a gate, a roadblock. Faith humbly trusts that God’s purpose for each of us can never be blocked. Peace comes in accepting that God’s plan is best whether an iron gate miraculously opens, or remains locked.
In Acts 12 Herod, by the swift execution of the sword, killed James, an integral part of the trio - Peter, James, and John. James, now in the nearer presence of Christ, had finished his race as a martyr in triumphant glory. Yet, it must have been a discouraging blow to the early church. Herod, spurred on by the religious leaders, now sought to also put an end to Peter.
Peter, with four squads of soldiers keeping watch, has two chains on his hands and a soldier on either side. On the eve of his execution an angel from God stirs him and “the chains fell off his hands” (12:7). A groggy Peter, with the loud snoring of soldiers all around him, tentatively followed his angelic rescuer.
It’s comforting to trust that God still has a purpose when a roadblock remains closed. Nevertheless, it’s stunningly exhilarating when God shows his sovereign power over all things and opens up the way before us when there seemed to be no way forward. Acts 12:10 tells us that “The iron gate leading into the city opened of its own accord.” Iron gates are, of course, inanimate objects. “Nothing,” Plato said, “is what rocks dream about all day.” The same for iron gates.
God’s purpose for his servant Peter, however, was not complete. The gate, therefore, opened (at God’s behest) of its own ‘accord’. So, whether it was Herod, his soldiers, iron chains or iron gates, nothing would stand in the way of God’s will being accomplished.
Over this past year (and in years past) have we not seen seemingly insurmountable obstacles overcome? Individually, and in the life of our church, many iron gates such as fear, discouragement, illness, misunderstanding, anger, hurt, divisions, and uncertainty, seemed to block the way forward. Surely our faith has been enlarged to have seen, in spite of all these things, that until God’s good purpose is accomplished in each of us, no obstacle will ever stop us. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “…we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (8:28)
Herod did not get his way, the soldiers did not awaken, chains fell off and the iron gate swung wide open. Like Peter, it’s for us to shake and wake ourselves out of our sleepiness, and with renewed faith, move past the iron gates of 2015 and into the great opportunities that God has before us in 2016. There are no gates that he cannot open in fulfilling his good plan for us at NMBC.
“For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favour and honour. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!” Psalm 84:10-12
Thanks for meandering along with me,