In one of the most telling encounters in the New Testament, a terrified jailer, whose prison had been reduced to rubble by the power of prayer, knelt before Paul and Silas and asked them this question: “What must I do to be saved?”
As recorded in Acts 16:31, they responded, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved; you and your household.” The answer Paul and Silas gave the jailer was clear. Then, it was the jailer’ turn to decide. “Will I believe, or not? Will I act upon that belief, or not? Will I live as I have ever lived, imprisoned within the walls of the jail I oversee, or will I accept the freedom Christ brings? Will I stay the same, or will I be changed by the power of the Living God? Will I throw myself upon my sword, fearful of those who seem to have power over me, or will I choose life abundant and eternal?” All of these questions, and others much like them, flashed through the jailer’s mind as quickly as the first frightening tremors of the earthquake, and with even more force. Sometimes it takes an earth-shaking event to move us from complacency to conviction. Then, by the grace of God, we may begin to live reconfigured lives.
What is remarkable is this: The jailer asked the right question. Notice, he did not ask: “What must I do to be lost? It is fair to say the jailer knew the answer to that. “What must I do to be lost?” “Nothing at all.” The jailer had been there; he had done that. He understood that to become lost, to be lost, to stay lost, all one must do is nothing at all. One cannot be healthy, one cannot be happy, one cannot be prosperous if one does nothing at all. To remain lost, is to remain sulky, or surly, or cynical, or superior, or defeatist, or fearful. But to be saved, one must believe in the turned-around limitless-love and grace of Christ Jesus.
God wishes your life to be worthwhile. This is a truth we know; yet, a truth we need reminded of every day. God went to infinite pains—even death on the cross—for your life to be worthwhile. God is still seeking, moving heaven and earth, for your life to be worthwhile. If you want what God wants—if you want your life to be worthwhile, you must start now, to train yourself in the daily exercise of believing in Jesus Christ. Do not allow yourself to dwell on anything that is not good. Believe God’s will for you is good. Let no thought of failure, disappointment, trouble, criticism, spite, jealousy, or condemnation of yourself or others have any place in your life. Believe God’s purposes for you are positive, constructive, and kind.
Give yourself a week of unbroken, mental discipline to get your mind set in this new direction. See what a difference a week makes. Then, make that difference the guiding force of the rest of your life, if you want what God wants.
Dr. John A. Dalles