"As she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, 'These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.' She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, 'I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.'" - Acts 16: 17 - 18
In the movie "42," the story of Jackie Robinson, Robinson asked Branch Rickey, the gruff owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, why he was calling down a storm of trouble by signing him and integrating baseball. "Why are you doing this?" Robinson asked.
More than once Robinson asked Branch Rickey this same question. Rickey's answers were cryptic. Finally, Robinson pushed hard. "Really, Mr. Rickey, why? Why are you doing this?"
Rickey, played by a crusty Harrison Ford, said that he had been the player/coach of a college baseball team. At that time he saw a fellow player, who was black, destroyed by hatred and prejudice. "I didn't do enough," grumbled Rickey.
But that incident and the issue - racism, fair play and decency - kept bugging Rickey. It wouldn't be quiet. It had gotten under his skin.
In today's scripture, a young woman was being exploited. She kept annoying the apostle Paul until he finally paid attention. Paul faced the demonic spirit that enslaved this young woman and called it out (which resulted in Paul being beaten and jailed by the girl's outraged owners).
Have you had the experience of something bugging you, something that won't shut up? Something getting "under your skin"? Is there a need/ issue/ person calling your name now, demanding that you turn and face it? God may be at work through these annoying, insistent voices. If so, we just have to face them - and relying on God's power - name them and call them out.
God grant me the strength and wisdom to face the insistent, annoying issues in my own life, in my church, in my community. Amen.
Anthony B. Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul's Letters to Timothy for a New Day, and he is also the author of Book of Exodus: A God is still speaking Bible Study. Read his weekly reflections on the current lectionary texts at www.anthonybrobinson.com by clicking on Weekly Reading.