There was no 911 system in place. No professional EMS response unit to summons. So, this is how Paul responded when a young man fell to his death while Paul was preaching.
Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. – Acts 20:9-11
I always laugh when I read the story of Eutychus falling out of the window. I’ve been in that precarious situation of falling asleep during a talk that lasted too long! Maybe you have as well.
There are other stories of resuscitation in the Scriptures. Both prophets, Elijah and Elisha, whose stories are written in I and II Kings, responded in situations where the breath of life had ceased. You can read the accounts here: https://bit.ly/3yKT3cx
As a former Paramedic, I read these stories with intrigue and wonder. In one of our 1990’s textbooks, Pediatric Advanced Cardiac Life Support (PALS), the quote in the opening cover page included a verse from Elijah’s story of resuscitating a young boy! He is staying at the home of a widow and her son dies. Elijah is distraught, especially since this woman has offered her home and hospitality to him when he needed a place to be. Elijah responded out of his angst and care, but also with God’s healing power:
Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!” – I Kings 17:21
These stories of physical resuscitation are real accounts of God working through people who have placed themselves in the service of the Lord. These miracles helped everyone (prophets included!) to experience God’s faithfulness.
What came to mind as I read the story of Eutychus today, was not about physically falling into sleep or ceasing to breathe. What came to mind was the resuscitation that so often comes, just as miraculously, at the presence of someone else.
It takes human beings to perform CPR to resuscitate someone whose lungs have ceased to breathe, and heart has stopped its beating. And it often takes human beings to ignite the flame of our spirits when the spark is low or, perhaps, even gone. Albert Schweitzer framed it well:
At times our light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. – Albert Schweitzer
Schweitzer’s quote has been meaningful to me for many years. Particular people come to mind that have offered that spark in my life, often without knowing it, and even more often – when I didn’t even know how much I needed it.
Who rekindled you by offering that spark? Take a moment now to thank God for their presence in your life and ask the Lord to give them the blessing they may need today. It was God who gave Paul and Elijah and Elisha the healing needed in the situations they faced, and it is God who gives us the spark to share with someone else. Your prayer has power because God is faithful. Prayer is answered in surprising and miraculous ways. We never have to know how or why; we are just faithful to pray.
Lord, we are intrigued by the way you empower us to restore life to one another. Human to human, at your careful guiding. It comes in so many ways we often don’t recognize it. Thank you for the people you place in our paths when we need a spark to rekindle the flame. Nudge us when we are the ones to share that gift with someone else. Please bless those who need a refreshing breath for life today; may it be provided in just the way it is needed. Thank you for your faithfulness. Amen.