Was That Really From God? – Acts 12:6-11
by Kurt Bennett
Published on June 23, 2022
Categories: The Calling

Was That Really from God? — Acts 12:6-11

By Kurt Bennett

I would like to explore an important truth concerning what to do when we’re wondering whether or not something in our mind, or in our life came from God.

In Acts 12:6-11 we read:

Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

Was It Just a Dream?

As we saw in our last post from the book of Acts, James had just been executed. And when Herod saw how that pleased the Jewish leaders, he decided to arrest Peter also and he put him in prison. But while Peter was in chains, sleeping between two soldiers, with sentries guarding the prison door, an angel stood next to Peter and shined a light into his cell. This angel struck Peter on his side and woke him.

The angel said: Quick, get up.

And the chains fell off Peter’s hands.

And the angel said: Get dressed and put on your sandals.

So Peter did what he was told.

And then the angel said to him: Wrap yourself in your cloak and follow me.

And Peter followed the angel, even though he didn’t know whether or not what he was experiencing was real.

It wasn’t until the angel had led Peter a few blocks away that Peter realized this miraculous rescue was a reality. “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting,” Peter said.

Was It Really from God?

So often we have thoughts enter our mind or coincidences happen or we see something and we wonder if it’s a sign from God — and then we deliberate within ourselves, we wonder: “Was that from God? Was that some sort of inspiration from the Holy Spirit? Or was it just a thought, or a coincidence, or something that would have happened anyway and God wasn’t involved?”

Here’s what I want to say today.

Here’s the thing to do in that situation.

Do what Peter did.

Get up and go.

Should I Bother to Get Up and Go?

I’ll never forget the story I heard from my friend and fellow firefighter Steve Shafer. He was dragging a fire hose deep inside a burning commercial building in the wee hours of the morning, trying to find the seat of the fire when he became lost. There was thick black smoke inside. It was impossible to see. He was wandering around searching for a way out when his low air-warning bell began sounding. He was running out of time.

Steve said, “I became disoriented. I had no idea which way to go.” He managed to locate an outside wall with some roll up bay doors but they were all locked. These bay doors had narrow little windows in them and he thought about trying to find something he could use to break the glass, so he could yell out the window. But there wasn’t anything around him that might work. He could feel panic starting to well up inside.

Then, behind him, he just barely heard the sound of someone else’s low air alarm in the distance. It was hard to hear with his own alarm ringing in his ears.

He thought about trying to follow that sound, that other bell. But if he stayed where he was, at least he had a window. Maybe someone would walk by. On the other hand, even if someone did walk by and see him, they might not be able to force the door before he ran out of air. And as soon as he ran out of air, he was dead. But, if he left the bay door, he was leaving his one point of reference and venturing into the unknown. All he knew about moving toward the interior was it would be hotter, and blacker, than where he was now.

In the end, he decided to take a chance, and follow the sound of the bell.

In Steve’s own words, “Through the Lord’s guidance, no brilliance of my own, I came walking out [of the building], about fifteen feet behind Milligan.” (Milligan was Steve’s crewmate.)

Three days later Steve bumped into a family member, his aunt Doris Wolmesdorf. And she asked him, “Where were you early in the morning on Thursday? Because the Lord woke me up at three in the morning on that day, and said, ‘Pray for Steve.’ After praying for you about a half hour, I thought, ‘OK, whatever it was is OK,’ and I went back to sleep.”

That Thursday morning aunt Doris asked about, was October 30, the time and date of the commercial fire, when, as Steve puts it, “I was reasonably sure I was going to die.”

Thank God for Aunt Doris.

And thank God she didn’t dismiss that thought that popped into her head about praying for Steve.

Get Up and Go (just as soon as you can)

So whenever that happens to you, just as soon as possible, get up, and go call that friend who popped into your mind. Get up and help that person who’s struggling to mow their lawn. Get up and volunteer for that ministry that helps sick kids. Get up and clean the bathroom or do the dishes or take care of that project. Get up, go out, and buy that gift. Write that note. Schedule that lunch. Pray that prayer.

The absolute best thing we can do when we’re wondering whether or not something is from God, is to do what Peter did:

Get up and go do it!

Just as soon as you can.

Kurt Cameron Bennett is a writer best known as the author of the book Love Like Jesus. After attending church and studying the Bible for most of his adult life, he was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven-year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote Love Like Jesus for himself as much as for others.

Before becoming an author he served as a firefighter in Medford, Oregon. He was born in Chicago, Illinois. He currently lives in Hillsboro, Oregon, just a few miles from his son Gabe, daughter (-in-law) Charise, and grandson Andrew. He has another son Nate and daughter (-in-law) Anastasia who live in Sammamish, Washington.

His blog, God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.

Feature Photo is of the Liberation of Peter (1665-1667) by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo and is published with permission.

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