The other night, our dog Louie and I were playing and wrestling. In the course of our tug-of-war battle, I backed him into a corner. As soon as he realized it, his tone changed. He became a bit more aggressive and agitated. After I let him out, he changed back to his normal playful self. It made me wonder, what do I do when it feels like I’ve been backed into a corner? What do you do?
We will all find ourselves in places where we don’t know what to do and it seems like our options are limited. It might come in the form of a call from the doctor. It might be a relationship that meets its demise. It could be in a bank account that you can’t seem to get into the black. Corners have a way of finding us, don’t they?
I’m struck by the way Paul and Silas responded when they were backed into a corner. Their corner came by way of being thrown in jail for sharing about Jesus. Listen to what they did in response. “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them…” (Acts 16:25) Can you imagine being thrown in jail and then hosting a worship service? That’s exactly what Paul and Silas did. Listen to what God did in response. It says, “and suddenly there was a great earthquake so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.” (Acts 16:26) Paul and Silas were in chains, but when they raised their hands in worship, God moved in power.
I don’t want to make a formula out of this account. I’m not saying that every time you’re in jail if you pray and worship God will send an earthquake to break you out. However, I think there is a principle for us to grasp. The principle is that when we worship, we experience freedom. Worship aligns us with the heart of God, it puts God in his rightful place and us in our rightful place… and when we walk in that truth, we experience freedom. This is similar to what Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 3:17 when he wrote, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” When God shows up (and we know he does when we worship), he brings freedom.
What if we started to respond in worship when we’re backed into a corner? Instead of shaking our fist at God, what if we bowed our knees to him – even when life was hard, and it felt like the options were limited. I think we’d start to experience his freedom in a myriad of different ways! Today, take some time to worship. You could do it through a time of prayer focusing on the attributes of God. You could make a music playlist and go on a prayer walk. There are a variety of ways to worship, choose one and spend some time worshiping God today and pay attention to the way he brings freedom.
Pastor Ryan Paulson