During the winter of 1811-1812, the geological fault near New Madrid, Missouri, produced some of the strongest earthquakes recorded in American history. Between December and March, literally thousands of quakes shook the Midwest, but none compared to the one on February 7, 1812. Church bells rang as far away as Boston, Reelfoot Lake was formed, the Mississippi River ran backwards for several hours, and even President and First Lady James and Dolly Madison felt the ground shake within the White House. Entire villages were destroyed and countless souls perished from this massive shaking of the earth’s foundations.

It does not seem as though the earthquake recorded in Acts 16 is anywhere near this violent. As Paul and Silas are incarcerated in Philippi, they are singing hymns at around midnight when an earthquake shakes their prison. The foundations of the prison are shaken, the doors of the prison are shaken open, and everyone’s bonds are shaken free. But the thing shaken the most is the jailer charged with their keeping. He is shaken from sleep and then shaken into fear that the prisoners have escaped. The words of Paul would have been almost beyond belief as they fall on his ears: “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.”

At that point, the jailer is shaken into action. He calls for lights, rushes in, and falls down before Paul and Silas. Then the response to the words that spring forth from his trembling lips, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” prompt his heart to be shaken. When the word of the Lord is spoken to him, he takes Paul and Silas the same hour of the night, washes their wounds, and is at once baptized.

This is one of the few earthquakes in history that resulted in a building up instead of a tearing down. What is built up is a changed man. The one who had slept while Paul and Silas sang is now able to rejoice with them. His body is moved with the earth’s power; his heart is moved by God’s Power (Romans 1:16).

Today, I will…thank God for the power that baptism in the blood of His Son has to change my life, and rejoice in what I can become instead of what I was.