I have accumulated quite a few gifts from students over my many years of teaching. Some gifts were edible and therefore immediately consumed (aka….CHOCOLATE), but others still dot the inside landscape of my home: pictures, ornaments, small figurines, and hand-made treasures, all sentimental mementos from young people who have touched my life deeply and have carved a niche into my heart. But one gift always makes me smile, and that is a pink selfie stick, given to me by a young lady who was quick to notice that this uncoordinated old lady definitely couldn’t handle that contemporary cultural phenomenon referred to as a selfie. The stick was a nice try, although not terrible successful. Suffice it to say that I still haven’t mastered the fine art of the selfie.
Unfortunately, we live in a selfie culture, focused on ourselves, on our needs, on our lot in life. I was reminded of this as I read the familiar story of Paul and Silas, the missionary team confined to an “inner prison” in the town of Philippi. They had been beaten with “many stripes,” cast into prison, “their feet fast in the stocks,” but what was the offense that merited this severe punishment? Through God’s power, they had freed a young woman “possessed with a spirit of divination,” a damsel who was being exploited by those who were profiting by her misfortune. The missionary duo led this young lady to a life-changing encounter with the true God, and were punished profusely for their compassionate deed.
Paul and Silas could have easily resorted to the selfie mentality-It’s all about me, look how unfair, woe is me-but they didn’t. Instead, they opted for the praise perspective, taking the focus off of themselves and directing it heavenward. They took a depressing, unfair situation and “sang praises” to the Lord of creation. Perhaps they sang one of the psalms of David, or a Hebrew song of worship, we are not told, but God heard them sing, and responded to that song of praise with a heavenly earthquake, an unexpected parole from prison, and the salvation of many souls, including their prison guard and his family. Although their example convicts me of my tendency for selfie moments, it also encourages my soul as I witness the power that can be unleashed through unbridled praise.
When our load becomes excessive, when the valley is too deep, when the pressures of day-to-day life begin to overwhelm us, it is easy for our carnal nature to turn the focus inward, but our souls will find revival and comfort when we reflect that focus upward. Even at our lowest point, we still have so many reasons to praise the God of our salvation. He is overwhelmingly worthy of our song, and perhaps that heartfelt burst of praise may be just what some discouraged onlooker needs to turn their weary heart to God.
Acts 16:25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises to God: and the prisoners heard them.
Lord, help me not to have the selfie perspective, but the praise perspective!<div class='sharedaddy sd-block sd-like jetpack-likes-widget-wrapper jetpack-likes-widget-unloaded' id='like-post-wrapper-164683012-939-63d9dd2d4dc64' data-src='https://widgets.wp.com/likes/#blog_id=164683012&post_id=939&origin=wp.blog.grandmasgleanings.com&obj_id=164683012-939-63d9dd2d4dc64' data-name='like-post-frame-164683012-939-63d9dd2d4dc64' data-title='Like or Reblog'><h3 class="sd-title">Like this:</h3><div class='likes-widget-placeholder post-likes-widget-placeholder' style='height: 55px;'><span class='button'><span>Like</span></span> <span class="loading">Loading...</span></div><span class='sd-text-color'></span><a class='sd-link-color'></a></div>