Acts 14: 19-20
19 Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. 20 However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
I’ve read Acts 14 at least 100 times in my life (including 5 or 6 times in the last week). It’s good stuff. But unlike any other time I’ve read these verses, tonight hearing them read at BSF made me cry. Let me see if I can explain why…
In verse 19 Paul is taken out to be stoned and is ultimately left for dead by the mob. In verse 20 his friends gather around him and he rises up and recovers so much that he is able to walk back to the city and leave the next day. Some commentators believe that Paul actually died during this stoning and that he was raised from the dead by the prayer of his friends. (Many believe this is the incident Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 12…)
But tonight as Alethea read these 2 verses aloud I saw this friend’s face in my mind…
And the tears came immediately because I thought of how over the past 2 years I have been knocked down, beaten, stepped on, mistreated, betrayed, and stoned by both those who claimed to love me and those who admitted to hating me. Several times over the past 2 years I was convinced that I had been left for dead by the world and sometimes even by God.
However…when my friend Cheryl gathered around me, I rose up and went into the city.
I have very few people in my life like my friend Cheryl. She is life-giving. She has breathed new breath into my soul when I was oxygen deprived. Cheryl has led the expedition to find me when I have lost myself. She never lied to me and said “It’ll be all right” when we weren’t sure if it would be. But she encouraged me. She prayed for me, with me, and over me. She pleaded on my behalf. And she listened through my tears to hear my heart when I was out of words and could only sob. She reflects all the goodness of Jesus onto those around her and calls herself…and her friends…to a better place. She is the friend who is willing to climb the mountain with you…sometimes ahead of you urging you on…and sometimes behind you shoving you all the way.
I am grateful for someone who came to stand over me and help me rise up after others had left me for dead. My wish for every person in the world is to have a friend like my friend Cheryl.
PS–Thanks Tim for switching to an unlimited text messaging plan! 🙂