But God is with us, even in lockdown

Acts 28:30-31 For the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense, [bound with a chain to a Roman guard, v. 16, 20]. He welcomed all who visited him, boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him.

Acts 16:25 Around midnight [in prison in Philippi], Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening … See also Ephesians 4:1, Philippians 1:13-14, Colossians 1:9, 24, 4:10, 2 Timothy 1:8, Philemon 1:1.

John Bunyan was arrested in 1660 and spent twelve years in jail for preaching about Christ. While a prisoner, along with other works he wrote Pilgrim’s Progress, one of the most read and beloved works in the English language.

Bedford UK 7/04/2017 A bronze statue of English Christian writer John Bunyan stands on St Peter’s Green, Bedford, England. The statue was sculpted by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, it was erected in 1874.

Three centuries later, in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote Letters from a Birmingham Jail.

Over his 27 years of imprisonment 1962-1989, Nelson Mandela wrote his Conversations with Myself, collected and published in 2010.

Any of these three, and so many others, could have broken under the stress of what they and their families suffered. Instead, like Paul almost two thousand years before, they used their time as prisoners to write.

Karis penned hundreds of pages from her own “imprisonment” in hospitals. Even when she could be home, unable to get away from the prison of her ailing body, she wrote precious words of encouragement to others.

Did you know that thousands of people have used Covid lockdown to write to write? Publishers have been flooded by this work. Last year, 100,000 titles were added to Amazon every month! Many artists created master works or composed music.

Covid lockdown hasn’t been fun or easy. For many people, it’s been awful. But people around the world have grown closer to the Lord through their time of isolation. Like Paul, they have responded with prayer and worship. Through the Holy Spirit’s empowering, they have boldly (Acts 1:8) shared the Gospel. They have taken time to reflect on their lives and have seen God’s faithfulness and presence with them even in their loneliness.

On this blog, since we entered “Ordinary Time,” we’ve traveled with Peter, Paul and others through Luke’s account of the Holy Spirit at work during the often stressful and painful earliest days of the Christian church. Luke concludes his book with the brief description of Paul imprisoned in Rome cited above. Did his life end there? Many people think not; see, for example, https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/the-fourth-missionary-journey-what-happened-to-paul-after-acts.html.

There’s so much we don’t know, because it wasn’t written down or what was written wasn’t preserved. I take from this once again the encouragement to Remember and Tell what we notice God doing in our world, in our generation. I’m waiting for your story! How has God been at work in your life? I would love to know!

Let’s take for ourselves these words Paul wrote to Timothy from prison in Rome: God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. … Keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you (2 Timothy 1:7-8, 4:5).

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