In the story from Acts, we begin with a girl who has some pretty exceptional powers - she is a slave possessed by a spirit of divination. She uses this "asset" to make nice sums of money for her master. Paul uses his "power" to cast out this spirit. And the master uses his power as a Roman citizen to accuse Paul and Silas, as Jews advocating unlawful behavior. The magistrates have the men beaten and jailed, but that night, an earthquake literally opens the prison. The jailer, afraid that he has lost all of his prisoners, is about to commit suicide, but Paul calls out to him - we're all here. It's OK. We haven't escaped. And the jailer is so overwhelmed by this turn of events that his eyes are open to God's power...power for good that is saving these prisoners, but they are not running away. He turns and asks what he needs to do to be saved. They share the good news of Jesus Christ and he takes them home, tends their wounds and they baptize his entire household. Now, a lot of things could have happened differently in this story, and it hinges on individual choice of how to use their Powers, Gifts, Abilities.
The psalmist sings praises of the Lord who knows well the Lord's power and uses it in wise ways, recognizing the difference between Good and Evil. Ah to be that sure, eh?
Jesus is praying to God in the selection from John's Gospel, and his petition is on behalf of his followers, but also on behalf of those who will come to believe BECAUSE of these early followers. As he's facing his own degradation and destruction, he's praying for the continuation of what he began. He's praying for their future gifts, for their understanding of all that has and will happen, and for their strength to continue the work that has been begun. He's using his power to invest, in some way, in the future - to ask God to be present in them.
It would seem that a key to being able to make good choices about how we use our Powers - for Good or Evil - has a lot to do with our connection to God and to others in the world. When we are drawing deeply from a well, engaged in conversation with God and with our community about how the world works and what the world needs, when we are caring for our gifts and tending to our own spiritual health, we are able to choose Better More Often.
I want to use what I have for Good.
I want to help make this world a
Better Place in Your Name.
I don't need to be a rock star.
I don't need to get the praise.
I just want to do the Good I Am Able.
I want to choose Better More Often.
© matt & laura norvell 2010 www.settingourstones.org
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