“While she followed us, [the enslaved girl] 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…” – Acts 16:17-18 (NRSV)
I bet they were into it, that first day when the psychic started yelling at everybody to listen to them. “Smart girl,” I bet Paul thought. “Knows her stuff. I like her.”
Then there she was the next day, hollering away. “Oh. Here she is again. That’s…nice.”
And then the third day. “Uh oh.”
And the fourth. “Oh NO.”
Maybe on the fifth day, Paul sidled up to her with a fixed smile and said out of the corner of his mouth, “Thank you so much for your…enthusiasm, but—”
“These men are slaves of the Most High God!!!”
I bet there’s somebody in your church whose way of pointing to God embarrasses you. The person who always puts their hands up in the air during hymns of praise (or who never does). The one who posts those smarmy devotional images on the church’s Facebook page (or who posts the edgy ones). The one who cannot keep from clapping to every lively hymn (or the one who refuses to). You cringe every time; you long for them to stop.
Before you try, consider Paul: he finally got so annoyed he exorcised the psychic spirit right out of that young woman. She lost her way of making money, the city turned against him, and he ended up in jail. Everybody’s day ruined.
Maybe God liked her way of praising better than his. Maybe She likes their way better than yours.
Holy One, make me generous, open, and unannoyed by those who love you differently than I do. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.