Upon reading the Acts of the Apostles for our Wednesday Bible Study, lots of questions popped out of nowhere. "Have you ever felt like being in a basket?" "Ever felt like you were a rope?" "Have you ever looked through an opened window and pondered on the many different possibilities that may be available to you?" "Do you remember when you felt being in danger?" I wonder. It must have been a scary night for the great evangelist of the early Church. How can he get out of the city gates being closely and wildly watched by people who felt threatened by the redeeming message of Jesus the Christ? He is helpless. How does he make his way out of Damascus? As I read the story again, I knew I wouldn’t know what to do with myself being in Paul’s shoes, nor do I think anyone of us would want to be within a city, any area or any point in our lives where we cannot freely walk any where in safety.
This story is about Paul, the recent convert but a different convert. He exuded enthusiasm, passion, and vigor. But is also noted to be arguing about his conversion both to skeptical apostles and other converts to the faith. This same Damascus where Paul finds himself in danger for preaching the gospel that Jesus is the Messiah, was the very destination where he was traveling to arrest Christians when he encountered the Lord. Such irony!! Well, you must accept that life is full of irony, and for that reason you must entertain some sense of humor - just so you wouldn’t drive yourself crazy, nor take yourself all too seriously.
Paul’s preaching in Damascus was so incendiary to the Jews that they decided to kill him. And so they laid in wait for him at the city gates. After all, that was the only way by which he could leave the city. That was the situation - a life and death situation - in which Paul found himself.
Recognizing the awaiting danger at the city gates, Paul’s friends knew they had to find another way of getting Paul safely out of the city. His friends hatched a plan, in the middle of the night, when most people were asleep, they opened a window and with ropes tied to a basket, and lowered Paul in that basket outside the city walls into safety, into life.
I am sure the Jews, who were keeping watch at the city gates, wondered what was going on with Paul. "Is he coming out or not? How long is he going to hide?" they wondered. For them, if Paul was to leave Damascus, he only had one choice, and that was to use the city gates. But our reality is one that when you serve the living God, you don’t have only one choice. Like Paul’s friends who opened the window, when you also gather the courage to open a window and look out, what you should see isn’t a world or a life covered in darkness, anxiety, retribution, and fear (although it often is), rather you should see a sea of opportunities for mission and for life, even in the midst of that darkness and fear.
If only we could see the basket as the support system which holds and offers us the protection, safety, and the means by which we can be dropped below the walls of the city gates. If only we could see ourselves as the rope that holds the basket to the ground below the city walls. If only we could see ourselves as the friends of Paul who hatched the plan, and held the rope that held the basket, and slowly lowered Paul. If only we could see ourselves as Paul, to trust our friends to help us into safety.
Opening any window expands your horizon and vision. And guess what? You may either be a rope, a basket, a friend or Paul. All you need to remember is that the basket holds you, and the rope holds the basket which holds you. Your friends and loved ones lower you in the basket to safety - to the many places where you can find the life that abounds.
Like Paul, your life has been spared because others found it necessary to lower you in a basket to safety. Now, go and tell the story of redemption and life. Go and tell the story of how you were lowered in a basket to safety by those who are enamored by the gift of you.