The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas…and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" -Acts 16:29-30
We used to play a lot of cards out at the lake. Just about every weekend, we’d sit around the table on the porch or in the kitchen and play a game of hearts. There was a lot of familiar banter during these games. When you made a mistake dealing, my dad would say something like, “They’d shoot you for that in Vegas.” When my brother got a good hand, he’d start telling jokes (and he had a million jokes) to distract us from how he was discreetly trying to shoot the moon. And when my mother looked at her cards and wanted us to think she had a bad hand, she’d often shake her head, sigh and say, “Oh, dear. What must we do to be saved?” So basically, I can’t read this Acts passage without thinking about those games of hearts.
But this reading is about something much more important than a card game. It’s about a person recognizing the life altering power of God and realizing that he’s got to make some changes in his own life in response. I’d wager the kitty that most of us have felt something similar at one time or another. I think most of us have had at least one significant moment when we recognized that we had gone off course and needed to make a significant correction.
I like how this passage shows that the change we most need to make is not anything we can do or fix on our own. Rather, what we need most often is to realize that others are here for us and that we’re called tend to one another’s wounds instead of remaining in our own separate cells. After all those years of playing cards, I know hearts is not just about getting that one good hand, but about regularly gathering together around the table and enjoying the game, win or lose. Just so, a life of faith is not just about making sure we’ve insured our own salvation, but about coming together regularly around the table with others to discover and live more deeply into the infinite love of God.