Normal People in Acts

By: Blake Hudspeth
Every single time I read the book of Acts I think, There’s no way I’ll ever have as much faith as these men and women. Chapter after chapter of Spirit-filled boldness and imprisonment and martyrdom. It’s just so much faith.

But then I get to Mary’s house. And Rhoda. Thank God for Rhoda.

By Acts 12, life’s grown bleak. The Apostle James, who was considered a pillar of the church, is dead. Many other saints have already met similar ends. Peter is in prison and there are four squads of guards watching him. Just him. So, it’s not exactly a Shawshank scenario.

“But earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.” Acts 12:5

The night before Herod scheduled to bring him out for judgment, Peter is sleeping between two guards. Something shoves him in the side and wakes him up. Peter startles and rubs his eyes. Someone is standing over him. Before he can figure out what’s happening, the man touches his chains, and they fall off clanking to the ground. Peter jerks his head left and right. The guards are still sleeping.

This must be a vision, Peter thinks. The man says, “Let’s go, get dressed.” So, he does. They walk past the other guards. It’s like they’re invisible. Then they get to a locked, iron gate and *poof* it opens up for them. It isn’t until they get to the open street and the angel vanishes that Peter realizes it all actually happened.

Imagine if you were Peter. You are about to be executed within 24 hours, then a fast-speaking angel breaks you out of maximum-security prison and plops you in the middle of town (and vanishes). What would you do?

Peter goes to Mary’s house (that’s where his friends were praying for him). He wants to let them know what happened.


The people in Mary’s house jump. Someone’s beating on their door. It’s late. They’ve been praying. This might mean trouble. Rhoda goes to see who’s at the door and opens it slowly, worried it could be a soldier.

It’s Peter.

She slams the door and shrieks. There’s no way it’s Peter, she thinks. Peter’s in prison, he’s as good as dead. She runs to the others.

“Who is it?” they ask, also worried.

“PETER!” Rhoda says.

The others are quiet. There’s no joy or relief. Just quiet. Quiet and lack of faith. It cannot be Peter. No matter how hard they prayed, it’s not possible for Peter to be on the other side of that door. There was an entire army guarding him.

“Maybe,” someone finally says, “maybe it’s his ghost.”

It’s at that point of the story that I finally breathe a sigh of relief and remember that these were real people too. They were like you and me. Sometimes they got scared. Even in their praying, they assumed the worst.

Hadn’t they seen God move in powerful ways? Chapters 1-11 would say so. Yet it made more sense to them that a ghost was at the front door. And their doubt feels familiar to us. How could God have done something so miraculous through their prayers? But He did. Normal people prayed fervently for their friend and God sent an angel to break him out of prison.

And if God did that for Rhoda and Mary and her friends, I think He could do it for you and me. We doubt too. We’re scared at times. And we certainly know the feeling of praying for one thing but expecting another.

Yet God loves and listens to us normal people. Maybe our brothers and sisters in Acts aren’t so extraordinary after all. Maybe our God is the extraordinary One. And if our God today was their God in the book of Acts, maybe our normal faith can see extraordinary things too.
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