By Alex Florez
Throughout the book of Acts, God is very creative when it comes to comforting His people in times of distress and setting captives free. Stephen sees a vision of “the Son of Man” standing beside God. An angel of the Lord frees Peter from prison right under the noses of the guards. God miraculously razes the building in which Paul and Silas are imprisoned.
In Acts 23, a covert mob conspires to assassinate Paul before he can stand trial. The way God intervenes here is not the kind of supernatural spectacle we’ve seen up to this point. Rather, Paul is tipped off about the imminent threat to his life by means of a human messenger. His enemies may have laid plans to end his life and, in effect, his ministry, “but the son of Paul’s sister, hearing about their ambush, came and entered the barracks and reported it to Paul” (Acts 23:16). As a result of his nephew risking his own safety to warn him, Paul is secretly carried off under the protection of an armed retinue.
As I type this, I am surrounded by family. Currently there are twenty-three of us assembled at my sister in-law’s house in Pennsylvania. There are ten adults and thirteen children. My wife has three siblings, and all of our families have at least three kids ranging from two-to-twelve-years-old. This is significant to me because I am an only child who was raised by a single mom. To say the least, having twenty-three people under one roof is wildly unfamiliar terrain to me. Even after having spent countless vacations and holidays with this crew, I still feel a bit overwhelmed by the crowd.
But when I look around and take stock of this mass of humanity, I am overcome with gratitude. I have been folded into a magnificent family, and I have rarely experienced such unabashed, unfettered love as I do among these, my people.
Thinking about Paul’s nephew and his intrepid mission to save his uncle, the Holy Spirit has whispered a beautiful assurance to my heart: you never know how the Lord will move. Which of my six nieces or four nephews might bear an important message for me? What might they say that would have the power to save my very life? Though my natural inclination is to cordon myself off from the noise, I feel an undeniable impulse in my spirit to lean into the presence of my beautiful family. I ought to be attentive to the words and behavior of all these children because it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if God ordains to use one of them to save my life someday. Is that far-fetched? I don’t think so. We don’t even know Paul’s nephew’s name, but we know that God used him to extend Paul’s life and ministry by several years.
If God could do that for Paul, what miracles might He produce through the people around you?