Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Bouncebackability (06/05/14)
TITLE: Let us go on to Derbe.
By Francie Snell
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Our great God had used us in ways that astounded everyone, including ourselves. We had traveled from place to place, sharing the Word of God, and performing many miracles. Arriving in the city of Lystra, we healed a man crippled in his feet from birth, and everyone was amazed to see him walk.
Upon hearing this, their priest of Zeus brought sacrifices to the city gates for all to honor us. Like mindless children, the throng tried to follow his foolish attempt.
We tore our robes in anguish. “No, do not do this,” we bellowed, “We are only men, like yourselves, and not gods at all. The one true God, who we represent, has shown you kindness by sending you rain from heaven and crops in their due time. He is the one who has provided you with food and fills your hearts with gladness. He is the one to worship, not us.
However, they would not listen. They had missed the meaning of our message: the good news of Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sin.
Then our enemies, the seeds of corruption, began spreading poisonous lies among the mass. Some of them had followed us from Antioch, and others from Iconium, to malign our message and turn the people away from our teachings.
I remember when I had behaved much like them, persecuting the believers of The Way. Mistakenly, I set out to usurp God’s plan. I thought I was doing well by fulfilling what I thought was His will. Even then, the Lord was good to me in that He showed me my error, and revealed to me His great plan for man’s salvation.
Now, I was on the receiving end of persecution.
The evil one turned the people as if they were puppets, so quickly manipulated: from worship to resentment, from adoration to murder. Their angry shrill was deafening, and the contemptuous insults began to fly at us unabated.
I wanted them to escape the fire and torment awaiting them in hell. With the power of God’s love, we spoke fervently. Even so, they would not hear it.
“Let’s stone them,” a sneering voice called out.
Many gave guttural roars of agreement, and picked up stones and readied themselves for the throw.
I remembered Steven, in his innocence, before a mob much like this. With remorse, I thought of how I had rallied against him...and against God. I reflected on how Steven’s countenance was like one from heaven, and the condition of my hard heart when he spoke that day. Like these men, I could have easily cast a stone.
The first rock landed hard on my chest, resonating with the rejection I felt. The pain was sharp, and it knocked my breath away. The next one was well aimed, and delivered a blow to my head.
“Oh Father, please buffer the impacts, and let them miss their lethal mark.” My eyes saw black. I remember falling...but not hitting the ground.
Later...I remember opening my eyes as I lied on my back, and saw shadows of heads above, encircled around me, shielding me from the hot sun beating down. Expressions of relief and gladness filled the faces as they came into focus.
The boisterous voice of Barnabas announced, “It is yet another miracle the Lord has given us today. Saul, we took you for dead. Are you okay?”
“Yes”, I answered dazedly, slowly sitting up on the hard ground. My head ached.
The disciples gave a hushed cheer, and then looked around as if fearful to draw attention, and saw no one. Then, with reckless abandon, they threw their hands to the sky. “Thank you Lord,” they all proclaimed, clapping their hands and stomping the ground, celebrating in clouds of dust rising from their feet. A few of them shook their heads in amazement as they lifted me to stand.
“Yes, I am okay,” I reassured them, “God has surely rescued me. Come; let us go back into the city.”
As we walked back through the city gates, I threw my arm across Barnabas’s shoulders. “I think we should leave here early tomorrow morning. Let us go on to Derbe.”
Barnabas eagerly shook his head in agreement.
(Inspired by the Book of Acts 14:8-20)
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