About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying
and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened,
there was suddenly such a severe earthquake
that the foundations of the jail shook;
all the doors flew open, and the chains of all were pulled loose.
The Acts of the Apostles often demonstrates the Authority of the Holy Spirit, which surpasses all human authorities, whether they be civil, religious, military or social. Not even a mob -- ochlocracy -- can overrule the Lord. Moreover, that authority is demonstrated lightly, almost casually, as earthquakes shatter jails and angels open doors. The authorities have gone to such a lot of trouble to build secure jails and hold their prisoners in escape-proof confinement! Centuries of hard experience have gone into the building of this penal infrastructure and it's blown away in one night. Missionaries have only to wait on the Lord and trust in his abiding, watchful presence. If he wants them out of jail, they'll be delivered. If not, then they'll just sing songs and watch what happens.
So how do we wrap that confidence around our own shoulders? It begins with the assurance, "I am where the Lord has sent me." It all began in Jerusalem a long time ago, when Jesus sent his disciples to the ends of the earth. Whether you live in Louisville, Ireland or Timbuktu, you're probably where the Lord sent you.
Hopefully, your relationships are also blessed. God knows we get into the wrong ones periodically. Some friendships and acquaintances and dealings are not meant to be and, as we examine our consciences, they feel increasingly uncomfortable. But to your parents, spouse, children, neighbors, true friends and church you are a gift -- as they are God's gifts to you.
All this is the work of the Holy Spirit who opens doors, breaks chains and sets his people free. Wherever the disciple finds herself, she is free. As Zechariah prayed when John the Baptist was born, we have been rescued from the hand of enemies, so that we might worship him without fear, in holiness and righteousness all our days.
So long as we're heading the right direction on the right road we enjoy the deep assurance and amazing freedom of Paul and Silas there in a Philippian jail.