Devotional – Rise Up and Run
Tabitha’s Story – Acts 9:36-43
Tabitha loves to sew. Peter is converting entire cities, leading important ministry and changing the world. Paul has just met the resurrected Christ. Meanwhile, Tabitha is sewing. When Tabitha suddenly becomes sick and dies, her neighbors send two men running three hours away to find Peter and bring him back.
Three hours is a long way to go for a dead person.
Peter goes with them. He has been watching the gospel spread like wildfire, and yet he stops his important ministry in order to go and pray over a dead woman who liked to sew. Peter was willing to stop for these friends of Tabitha.
To the woman who is desperate for a miracle – your need matters.
You are not annoying the Church when you share your need. There are Christians around who would gladly stop their work and ministry in order to give you the attention and prayer that you desperately need.
I remember going to a worship service after I lost a loved one and feeling like the songs and sermons were completely irrelevant to my life. I think the people on stage had the best intentions and were doing what they were supposed to do, but I was broken. I was desperate. I didn’t need another sermon, I needed a person to hear me and comfort me. It wasn’t easy to find the individuals with whom I could share my need, but they did exist. The Lord used them to meet my desperate need.
Peter walks three hours back to help these desperate men. He arrives and widows start to show him all of Tabitha’s remarkable handiwork: robes and clothing hand-crafted in love for these vulnerable widows.
Just before this story we read 30 verses describing Paul’s conversion. Just after this story we read 48 verses describing Peter’s vision. On Tabitha we only have 7 verses.
Her small act of sewing may seem insignificant compared to power of the apostles. But to the widows in her town, Tabitha’s life was important. Her sewing was an act of the Holy Spirit. She took literally Jesus’ teaching when He said, “I was naked and you clothed me.” (Matthew 25:36).
To the woman who helps in practical ways – your service matters.
I want to honor every one of you who washes dishes, changes diapers, and types emails, because it is deeply significant in our world! Those practical works of service are no less significant than any other gifts.
During my first kettle season as a young corps officer, I came home to discover that my friend had folded all my laundry for me! Let me tell you – this blessed me more than countless sermons ever could.
Peter recognizes that Tabitha was a saint. He also recognizes that they are expecting him to raise her from the dead – something that he had seen Christ do, but he had never done himself. In fact, no disciple had ever raised a person from the dead before! He sends everyone out of the room so that he can kneel down and pray. He doesn’t do this for every miracle, but this is a big one. I think Peter needed to take a moment with God to ask for confirmation and for serious help.
To the woman reading this whose faith is being stretched – your obedience matters.
Someone is waiting for you to preach, to pray, to move, to start the new project that is on your heart. You might feel like Peter, on the cusp of something scary and challenging. Don’t hold back! Imagine if Peter had turned to the room that day and said, “This is too hard for me. I can’t.”
When Catherine Booth stood up in an early Salvation Army meeting and said, “I’d like to have a word,” she sent a ripple effect across generations. This was a definitive moment which opened the door to female preachers in our movement. I’m sure her heart was racing and she may have been terrified – but her obedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit was significant for her, for the people in the room, and for generations to come.
Peter stretches out his faith and tells Tabitha to arise. She opens her eyes and gets up! He calls everyone back in the room to see, and I love that the Scripture emphasizes especially the widows.
But from Tabitha’s perspective – did she really have to leave Heaven and return to earth to sew more clothing? Wouldn’t she have been happier to stay in Paradise? Now she is back and they are keen for her to keep serving and keep giving.
This miracle was not for Tabitha’s sake, nor for the widows’ sake only. It was for the world. Many people believe as a result of this miracle. And even further, Peter’s arrival in this town sets the platform for him to see a vision that changed the course of history. Peter stays with Simon the Tanner, and it is while he is still in this town that God reveals that the gospel is for all people, not only the people of Israel.
To the woman reading this who is ready to give up – your revival matters. Revival is not just a concept for the past: Philippians and Ephesians both teach that resurrection power is at work in you! Tabitha could have sewed for years, but God wanted her to die and be revived. Tabitha would no longer be known as a seamstress, but as the woman who died and rose again.
Are you content with doing good deeds, when God wants to revive you instead? You could get the credit for being a great servant, but only God gets glory when a life is revived.
Are you counting down days to weekends or retirement or death, when God wants revival to come for you and through you to the world? In the relay race of faith, the baton is being passed down. It is your turn to rise up and run.
“You are not here in the world for yourself. You have been sent here for others.
The world is waiting for you!”