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If this is all I allow you for now, will you still honor me in it?
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Grab a Beam and Live!

by Dee Wieninger

 

Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, `Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.'  So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island... He (the Centurion) ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. The rest were to get there on planks or on pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land in safety."   Acts 27:23-26; 44

 

Paul was on his way to Rome.  God wanted him there and if God wants you somewhere, he'll see to it you get there!  It reminds me of the story of Philip. God needed someone to explain to an Ethiopian traveler what he was reading.  Two people are involved here; Philip, and the Ethiopian Eunuch.  So God simply told Philip, "Go south to the road--the desert road--that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." Obediently Philip  went!  See how easy that was?  He must have felt so honored that God would entrust to him the work of teaching His Word, leading others to Christ and following through with the great commission. Wow! How pumped Philip must have felt!  Then there's the Eunuch. He had questions and maybe some doubts. He needed to understand. God sent him someone to alleviate his doubts and answer his questions.  He learned of the God of the universe, the God who loved him enough to send someone to help put him on a new path. Still the same physical path to the same destination...home, but a new Spiritual path with a new vision and purpose upon his arrival.  Wow! How pumped the Ethiopian must have felt! Always remember, it's not all about you or me! God is working in everyone around us! Which brings me back to Paul in his sinking boat.
 
No surprises here for God! God knew all about it; he wasn't caught sleeping on the job. Yet Paul finds himself in this nightmare. This was the path God chose to get Paul to Rome and Paul was being obedient. Just maybe, it wasn't about the destination.  Maybe it was about the journey!  God told Paul what was coming and that it would be OK. Whether in a Sunday sermon, reading His word, or in our quiet time and prayer, God gently conveys the way we should go and that it will be OK. In the book *The Hiding Place by Corrie tenBoom her sister Betsie says,(after Corrie shares a frightful vision she's seen); "If God has shown us bad times ahead, it is enough for me that He knows about them. That's why He sometimes shows us things, you know-to tell us that this too is in His hands." What a magnificent faith this "cloud of witnesses" had. 

 

Another magnificent truth in this passage is that all those in Paul's traveling party would be saved.  This touches me so, that God would not only want to save Paul, but all those with him.  This reinforces the point that, "It's not ALL about me" but that my presence in the group could make a major difference in their lives as well.  This has become a powerful verse for me. Over the 35 years that my husband and I have been married, I have to confess, I have wanted to leave numerous times. I have a terrible habit formed in childhood - to run from conflict! When young, if I wasn't outside playing with friends and was in my house I would keep to myself and play in my room a lot. I think it was because we (6 kids) never felt like we pleased Dad very much. So I'd stay in my room to avoid the possibility of incurring his displeasure i.e. conflict.  Not having much opportunity to learn conflict resolution, the mode of "running" has pretty much been my pattern.  God has been working on this trait for, well, my whole life.  What this passage teaches me is that maybe staying put keeps my husband safe and blessed, as well as his presence keeps me safe and blessed. If your only mission in life was to stay present with your spouse for his or her safety would you do it? What about your job, or church, or a current life storm? Ok, now I'm meddling (as our pastor often says!) Paul had his chance to escape but he stayed and he encouraged the men to stay as well so that ALL would survive the journey.

 

Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.' So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.”  God knows the destination. He knows whom you're with and He has a plan.  Sometimes His plans allow some serious detours. Either they are detours God programmed into the GPS of our lives or they’re a case of recalibrating because we have veered... like Jonah? 

 

Some parts of our lives are shipwrecks. (I know the more familiar saying is train wreck but the Biblical expression is "shipwreck".)  It wasn't Paul saying grab a plank it was the Centurion. He encouraged those who could swim to go first.This was probably a very smart decision as even the best of swimmers could very easily be mistaken for a plank or beam to a drowning person, lessening the odds of survival for all involved! After the swimmers got a head start he ordered the others to jump in and grab what they could to get to shore. I cried the first time I seriously read this passage.  I felt like God was saying, "Whatever you can find to stay afloat, grab it!  Not vices (i.e. alcohol, drugs, cigarettes or food) but spiritual warfare tools (i.e. Sword of the Spirit (God's Word) Breast Plate of Righteousness, the Belt of Truth, or the Gospel of Peace) and use them to my glory and my purpose!" 

 

Where are you in your journey to Rome?  Is there a steady wind gliding you along calm seas or maybe the winds have picked up just a bit and waves are slapping your ship? Enjoy the quieter times and use it to help others who might be in a different phase of their journey. Maybe your storms have raged on so long that you feel your ship is coming apart or even totally lost and you’re in the tumult of waves, thrashing around reaching for anything to help keep you afloat.  Wherever you are, I can assure you that the Lord is there and not caught off guard by your situation.  He knows exactly what is happening in your life and there is a plan and a purpose in it, a plan for you and those with and around you.  God encourages you and me with the same words he shared with Paul who, in turn, shared them with those around him, “keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God”.  His plans and purposes for you will take place but just maybe your ship has to run aground.  If God told you ahead of time what was going to happen and his reasons why wouldn’t you say, “Let it be to me as you have said, Lord?” Maybe we need to picture in our hearts and minds this kind of conversation with the Lord and just maybe we would sail through our most difficult storms with less fear and trepidation knowing He’s in it and working it out for the good of all.

 

You know what happens when we trust that God is working His purposes in our shipwrecks? We eventually become those who jump in the water and with smooth, steady strokes swim to shore. It takes the continued character building lessons that create this ability to move faithfully through our journey to 'Rome'. So, keep up your courage, have faith and trust that it will come out as God has ordained and...happy sailing!

 

 

*TenBoom, C. (1971). The Hiding Place. In C. w. TenBoom, The Hiding Place (p. 63). Old Tappen, NJ: Chosen Books.

 
 
 
 
 
    I wanted to keep the name of the song in the title by Lori Line. Sweet Dreams is the name of the song from her album "Simply Grand" Enjoy the beautiful melody as you contemplate your time spent in knowing God more.
    God bless you!