This past Sunday, our Adult Bible Discussion Group read the story of Paul being transported by ship to Rome to stand before Caesar. Sailing was “doubtful in September and impossible by November.” Paul told the ship’s captain that there was trouble up ahead – shipwreck, loss of cargo, injuries, etc. Despite Paul’s warning and the fact that this was not the ideal time to travel, the ship’s Captain did not want to spend the winter in Lasea or Fair Havens. So he decided to take a chance and off they went.
After experiencing gale-force winds, having to throw overboard the “ship’s equipment and anything else they could lay their hands on,” and not having any food for days, Paul gathered the crew together to give them another message. Paul told them they should have listened to him in the first place, but now an angel of God had given him the message that none of them would lose their lives, although they would be shipwrecked. He “took some bread, gave thanks to God before them all and broke off a piece and ate it. Then everyone was encouraged.” (Acts 27)
When the men finally arrived on the Island of Malta, the people welcomed them and built a fire. As Paul was laying sticks on the fire, a poisonous snake bit him on the hand. The people thought Paul, while he had escaped the sea journey, would now surely drop dead because of the snakebite. When he didn’t, the people thought he was a God. By proclaiming God’s message of survival to the officers and crew of the ship, and the fulfillment of that promise, how many people’s lives were changed? God brought Paul safely through the voyage and the snakebite because God wasn’t done with him yet. Paul still had work to do.
Pastor Bill made the comment that “if you stayed in the boat, you’d be saved.” Meaning that if we stay in “God’s boat,” we will be saved. It is comforting to know that no matter what storms we experience in life, that God is always there with us. But how many times are these “storms” the result of our not listening to God in the first place?
We need to learn to trust in God’s promises. My study Bible says that our “faith is like a muscle – it grows with exercise, gaining strength over time.” Focusing on our “storms” can prevent us from moving forward. Usually there are lessons to be learned, and we never know how we handle our problems affect other people – God could be using us, like Paul, for good. Focusing on God and his promises to us, will help us see our way through. Psalm 9:10 tells us, “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, have never abandoned anyone who searches for you.” Does trusting in God mean that life will be easy? No . . . but it DOES mean that God will never leave us, no matter what storms come our way.