Life does not always go to plan. We all know that. When Herod Antipas started arresting and executing Jesus’ disciples, we can only imagine the thoughts and feelings of those early Christians. Acts 12 gives an account of how Peter was miraculously sprung from prison by an angel. At first reading, it is a positive story, but - given a bit more thought - it raises some questions.
It is wonderful that God sent an angel to rescue Peter. But what about James? James was also one of Jesus’ inner group of three favoured disciples. But he was executed. Why didn’t God rescue him?
Why did God wait until the night before Peter’s scheduled execution before he effected the rescue? Peter had been in prison for at least a week. But then, this isn’t the only incident of God leaving things to the last moment. What does that show us about God?
And then, having successfully rescued Peter, the angel might have given him some instructions or advice. But it didn’t. It simply vanished, leaving Peter alone and confused in the middle of the street, in the middle of the night. What does that show us about God’s way of dealing with us?
This is not a neat and tidy story. And the muddle continued when Peter arrived at his chosen destination, only to be left in the street while those praying for his release failed to believe that their prayers could have been answered.
What we discover is that working within God’s plan can be a confusing experience from the human perspective. What God may see as perfect order, might well look and feel a lot like muddle to us. Be prepared!