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Monday, May 11, 2009

A Really, Really Bad Day

Last week I was reading over my children's lesson in Acts 27. As I read, I began to view this story with a very new and fresh perspective that I thought I'd share.

Paul is a prisoner. He asks for an audience with Caesar and as a roman citizen, gains transport to Italy. The first ship encounters difficult headwinds and a prisoner transfer is made to an Egyptian ship. Weather is rough, Paul realizes that they are sailing too late in the season. He expresses his concern to the captain. Like this. vs. 10, "Sirs", he said, "I believe there is trouble ahead if we go on - shipwreck, loss of cargo, injuries, and danger to our lives." He is very assertive with the captain. Basically, "we're going to die you fools!" Paul does not allow his life circumstance of being a prisoner keep him from trying to express God's message to the captain.

Now check out vs. 20

“The terrible storm raged unabated for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone.” What a life verse!!!!! Talk about “my life sucks!!!” If sailors are saying, "all hope was gone." That's bad news. Definitely not something you ever want to hear.

Paul's obedience to God in sharing his message led to his imprisonment, but God’s plan for Paul’s future led to the endangerment of the entire ship’s crew. They are afraid for their lives. Men who make their living sailing on the open seas. Panicked….throwing overboard even their vital equipment…Until at last all hope was gone.

But, no....things got worse. They are shipwrecked. The crew wants to kill the prisoners, but the captain stays their hands. Perhaps in part because he has been impressed by Paul’s faithfulness and the truthfulness of his message. If Paul had never told the captain about God’s message, the captain would not have developed respect for Paul. Or if Paul had not been in submission to the captain’s authority, he could have lost his life. But Paul’s obedience helps God to use Paul in an incredible fashion.

So everybody is safe, landing on the island of Malta. Great news! Not yet, next Paul is bitten by a snake. Oh…hope really is all gone. Survived the shipwreck just to be bitten by a poisonous snake....what the heck? Thank you God for saving me from the storm, just to kill me with a snake.

But God heals him. Miraculously. The islanders are stunned. Paul credits his God. They decide to take him to the official government on the island. Maybe hope is not gone, after all. The snake bite and miraculous healing gain Paul an audience with a ruling official that needs to hear about Jesus.

Publius, the chief official’s father is dying. No health care. No way to leave the island to get any health care because sailing season is over. So Paul (with the physician Luke) is shipwrecked on the island. God grants Paul the ability to heal the official’s father. Then he is probably able to share Christ with the official.

Paul is treated as an honored guest his entire time on the island. When the weather changed, the people of the island showered Paul and the crew with gifts and supplies for their voyage. What seems like a terrible day….imprisonment, stupid captain sailing in unsafe conditions, shipwreck, snake bite…all hope is gone….turns into a huge God event.

God uses Paul to spread his message to all the people and the government on the island. Paul is obedient to God even in the tough times, and as a result gets to see God move in great and mighty ways.

The prisoners who thought all hope was gone get to see Paul’s God rescue them, do miraculous events, and provide for their future. Suddenly a routine prison transport has turned into a life-changing event. God took the bad and created the incredible.

It was a reminder to me that God's plans may be unfathomable to me in the moment....but he does have a plan... a plan to bring glory to his name.

1 comment:

Bits-n-Pieces said...

Remembering that "everything happens for a reason", and that "God has a plan for my life" helps me get through all the hard places I find myself in.