“When neither the sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.” Acts 27:20
I have experienced at least one season (actually several seasons) in my life where one decision, one unheeded warning, changed the course of history in a monumental way. And ushered in an unbelievable storm. When the storm passed (and it always does), I never forgot the wake of destruction and the marks of what the storm did.
The next warning given, I hope to heed. Be different. Be wise. Praying I will learn from the past.
Acts 27:21 says, “After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: ‘Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss.’ ” The damage and loss can be shocking. You wonder why you didn’t listen to sound and wise advice when it was offered. I know what this is like…
But, I also know what it is like to trust God in the storm and to be sure that He uses even the worst scenarios to further His purposes in my life and the lives of others caught in the storm. Hence, the reason I love Psalm 37. I’ve seen God bring beauty from ashes. Not overnight. But, closer to a lifetime. I’ve seen Him weave the story so that I begin to trust Him more, have more wisdom in my storehouse, have better preparation for the next godly advice I receive.
When you see the storm coming, you have decisions to make. When you later realize that it could have been prevented by one different decision, then you know the power of decisions. You think you have affirmation from God, but all you have is some kind of consensus from those around you. You think you did your research, but it turns out you missed a few important things. One different phone call. One different conversation. One different employment decision. One different family decision. One different leadership decision. Could have averted disaster.
Acts 27:25-26 says, “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.”
Running aground can be merciful. It is God’s way of setting you on a new and better course. He doesn’t let you dwell in the “what ifs” but He challenges you with the “what nows.” The “what now” is God’s way of rescuing you and reminding you that He is in charge of the northeasters in your life. He is in charge of the course of history and our part in it. He is not mocked by our bad decisions. He uses every phone call, every conversation, every meeting, every failure, every disaster to move us toward deeper trust in Him and His eternal purposes. Keep up your courage.
God’s eternal purposes trump our temporary purposes, bad or good, disaster or not. And remind us that, when you are God’s child, no ignoring of wise advice, no inviting of unnecessary disaster, can thwart God’s plans. If anything, He uses the disasters to mature us in Him and put godly character in us where it was missing before. Keep up your courage.
Be careful to discern God’s voice. Acts 27:11-15 says, “But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship. Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided that we should sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there. This was a harbor in Crete, facing both southwest and northwest. When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the “northeaster,” swept down from the island. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along.”
Keep up your courage. Prayerfully question the advice of the pilot and the owner of the ship. Ask God for discernment. Decisions are powerful. I thank God for the “Pauls” in my life. I’m a better listener now.