“Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.” — Acts 16:25
I was in my seat, waiting for the curtain to open in this old, tradition-rich auditorium in downtown London. I knew it had to be show time—the lights went down, and unobtrusively, the orchestra filed into the pit.
Most of the people were focused on the stage, but I was fascinated by something I saw going on with the musicians. One woman in the orchestra had the arm of a fellow musician in her arm. She was obviously leading him to his position at the keyboard.
Finally, I realized with some amazement that the keyboardist was blind. He put on his big headphones and, as the curtain opened, he started playing with all his heart. It was awesome
It was really inspiring. That musician could not see—but he could still hear the music…he could still play the music! I hope you can, too—no matter what limitations you’re facing right now.
Look at Paul and Silas. These two missionaries had been attacked by a crowd who were incited by false accusers. The Bible describes what they had been through: “stripped,” “beaten,” “severely flogged,” and “thrown in prison.” The Bible says they were put “in the inner cell” and their feet were “fastened in the stocks.”
That is enough to beat the song out of anyone. According to the scripture, “about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing…” The Bible goes on to report that when an earthquake shook that prison, the jailer himself came running to them for help. He and his whole family came to Christ that night!
There is something very compelling about someone who refuses to be taken down by the worst of circumstances, who can still hear God’s “music,” who can still play God’s “music” no matter what. That “music” is a positive attitude—that quality of “unsinkability” the Bible calls joy.
Perhaps you’re in a season right now when you’ve been sidelined. You feel set aside, held back or restricted. You’re in a situation or you have a condition that is making you very aware that you’re really limited.
Not all prisons have physical walls. It’s easy to get frustrated, full of self pity, negative and bitter. You can choose, as Paul did, to continue instead, to enjoy your Lord—to make His music for others.
The truth is, people will listen to what you have to say about Jesus because of what you’re going through. Centuries ago, the poet Richard Lovelace wisely observed, “Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage.”
Lovelace went on to say, “If I have freedom in my love, and in my soul am free, angels alone, that soar above, enjoy such liberty.” Now, your soul can be free, no matter how imprisoned the rest of you may be.
Paul later said, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair…struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8). Yes, he had a lot to handle—but that didn’t stop him from hearing God’s music. It did not stop him from playing God’s music.
No matter how blinding, how deafening, how paralyzing your situation, the music of God is always there for those who choose to hear it!