Acts 20:7-12 Video Devotional

“On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted.” (Acts 20:7-12)

Paul was making his way back to Jerusalem, hoping to get there in order to celebrate Pentecost. Haste was fully his intention, as he wanted to sail past Asia (specifically Ephesus) to get to Jerusalem faster. Obviously travel back then was different than it is now, so it’s not like it was a few hours drive, but time certainly was of the essence.

I find that a peculiar detail when reading about sermon Paul gave that went on and on and on (and, by the way, those of you who think we are long winded preachers, we’ve got nothing on Paul!) leading to someone falling asleep and then falling out the window! Granted, he was sitting in a precarious position, but that was a long message! You can guess that message was going into at least its twelfth hour, and poor Eutychus fell asleep sitting at the window.

There are plenty of laughs that can be had at this story, but it shows us a deep and valuable lesson in regards to the Holy Spirit and His movements. 1) Paul was in a hurry to get back to Jerusalem, but his plan was upended by an longer than expected stay in Troas; 2) Paul was sensitive to the Spirit and prolonged his message even though he was the one in the hurry to get moving; 3) even after the sermon and reviving of Eutychus, Paul stayed around to fellowship; and 4) no one hurried out the door after it was over.

This tells me that we, as the church today, may be a little too wrapped up in being “timely”. We can’t start too early, but we have to be done with church by kickoff (I have seen people walk out of a church in order to watch a football game – on TV). If the preacher goes too long, then people make jokes about falling asleep (and many do fall asleep) and call them long-winded.

At our church, we work hard to respect the time demands on everyone’s schedule and practice our preaching craft to be efficient and succinct (if you can’t say it clearly in 30 minutes, you won’t be able to say it clearly in 45), while still leaving room for the Spirit to work and get what He wants out. But maybe we (the church universal) are a bit too rigid with our time allotments and expectations. Maybe we should open ourselves a bit more to the working of the Spirit on the timetable He chooses – maybe then we will be more likely to see His amazing work such as Eutychus experienced firsthand. Thoughts?