One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. While 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.” And it came out that very hour. ~ Acts 16:16-18
What part do you think annoyed Paul?
That the slave girl was following him?
That she kept crying out to him?
That her fortune-telling financially advantaged her owners?
However you want to define evil spirits, whether as demons or mental illness or self-aggrandizement, this is a case of possession. We all, I think, get possessed from time to time. Possessed of things that we lean into more than we lean into God.
Yet even in her possessed state, this possessed girl spoke the truth, of a sorts anyway. Slaves of the Most-High God. In there, the truth of God's identity comes out. In our vernacular we might not be fond of the term "slaves," yet for this slave girl, that word held lots of meaning.
Maybe it was that truth that set her free. Paul freed her from this possession out of annoyance. Yet free her he did.
Of course, in freeing her, she lost her value to her employers (or owners). Freedom does come at a cost.
I've frequently heard the phrase "the devil you know is better than the devil you don't." Freedom is scary, it seems to say. Staying with something difficult, hard, emotional trying, addicting, violent, often seems less scary giving up that something we are familiar with for something unknown.
What if by being free we have to change?
What if by being free we lose friends?
What if by being free we lose our family?
What if by being free we lose our job?
What if by being free we lose money?
What if by being free we lose some control?
But what if by being free, we get to finally live!?
Lord, set me free from the prison of being too comfortable to see the life you have laid out before me. Amen.