Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Day 2: And Can It Be

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Acts 12: 5-11

So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.

The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. "Quick, get up!" he said, and the chains fell off Peter's wrists.

Then the angel said to him, "Put on your clothes and sandals." And Peter did so. "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me," the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed through the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street suddenly the angel left him.

Then Peter came to himself and said, "Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod's clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating."


Peter's miraculous escape from prison is one of my favorite Bible stories. I must have an affinity for Peter, because my favorite verses come from one of his letters (1 Peter 1:3-9). I think he is easy to relate to with all his highs and lows. Yet, despite his failings, he loved the Lord.

I don't think the story of Peter's escape would be such a favorite were it not for my absolute tied-for-first-place favorite hymn, And Can It Be. The hymn brings this Bible story full-circle, reminding us that our salvation is no less a miracle than the chains falling off Peter's wrists.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature's night.
Thine eye diffused a quick'ning ray;
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light!
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

Best verse in all of hymnody. Or at least according to me. ; )

Without Christ we are in prison and death is certain. But in His grace, He comes for us. Some of us, like Peter, need to be woken up from our spiritual slumber a bit more forcefully, so he gives us a jab in the side. And just like that, the chains that have kept us from knowing and loving God are broken, and we are set free. Even though Peter didn't know what was happening, he followed, just as we follow Christ like sheep follow their shepherd to safety.

This hymn deserves to be belted out, so I am sharing a video that does just that. Enjoy!

And Can It Be
Charles Wesley, 1738

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior's blood?
Died He for me who caused his pain?
For me who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou my God, shouldst die for me?

'Tis mystery all! Th' immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the first born seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
'Tis mercy all! let earth adore
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father's throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace!
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam's helpless race!
'Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature's night.
Thine eye diffused a quick'ning ray;
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light!
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

No condemnation now I dread:
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th' eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.


  1. This is a great series! Even though I may not comment daily, I am reaping the benefits of you posting a daily hymn. Worship is so important when facing a trial. Thanks for the edifying posts!

    1. Dawn, I think I missed commenting on your last update because I read it on my phone and was having trouble with commenting, but please know you are always in my prayers. Love you!

    2. I understand completely, Kellie and know you are praying. :) I have been reading you mostly through my email subscription on my Kindle. I don't like typing from it and much prefer an old-fashioned keyboard. The boys have more and more work that has to be accomplished on our two laptops now so I don't get to type as much as I would like. :) Loving this series!

  2. Ed and I had Glad's version of this song in our wedding.

    1. Glad -- now that's a group I haven't heard for awhile! I don't think I've ever heard them sing And Can It Be, but I bet it was beautiful. Don't you wish we could go back in time to attend the weddings of the friends we didn't know yet?