STORMS, SHIPWRECKS & SNAKEBITES

Has God ever given you a word or a promise, but then the storms, shipwrecks and “snake bites” of life come along and leave you wondering if what was spoken will ever be seen – or if God even still sees you? Maybe you are in the middle of a savage sea storm right now; drifting without direction, being battered by a ferocious onslaught of waves. Perhaps you feel like your life is nothing more than a shipwreck on the rocks. Or you feel that you’ve (emotionally speaking) been bitten by a poisonous snake because of something someone close to you did. It’s left you questioning what God has spoken…

Take courage, and stay steadfast, because God himself says that what He speaks will be!

“… so my word that comes from my mouth will not return to me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do. Isaiah 55:11

 

Something like this happened to Paul – literally! God told him back in Jerusalem: …Have courage! For as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so it is necessary for you to testify in Rome.” Acts 23:11 I’m pretty sure Paul didn’t have a clue what his journey from Jerusalem to Rome would end up being like. I’d guess he found this journey to be distressingly different. It was a lot longer and way harder that he could have ever imagined (you can read the full story in Acts 22 through 28). On the way, he faced angry mobs, assassination attempts, false accusations, he was abandoned in jail, and when he finally set sail along with over 270 others (mostly convicts) it was far from a Mediterranean cruise!

 

20 For many days neither sun nor stars appeared, and the severe storm kept raging. Finally all hope was fading that we would be saved. Acts 27:20

 

Aside from the storm, they faced near starvation, finally a shipwreck, a sea swim and a dangerously close call when the warden decided they should execute all the convicts (including Paul) so that no one would escape!

Once ashore, Paul even got a bite from a poisonous snake (Acts 28). YIKES! Any one of these could have been the “end game” for Paul, or at least enough for his hope to fade.

I think it would have been over for me if I was the one with a poisonous snake dangling from my hand.

 

YET, Paul was able to remain steadfast. He knew what God had spoken would be seen. God said he would get to Rome (and just in case, God reminded him about that when things were at the very worst).

 

23 For last night an angel of the God I belong to and serve stood by me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul. It is necessary for you to appear before Caesar. And indeed, God has graciously given you all those who are sailing with you.’  So take courage, men, because I believe God that it will be just the way it was told to me. Acts 27:23-25

 

Simply reading these words today could be a reminder to you, like God reminded Paul in the midst of the savage storm, the shipwreck, surrounded by hundreds who were giving up hope. Maybe this is a moment for you to ‘breathe courage in’ and ‘speak truth out’; to believe again that what God SAID will be SEEN and nothing will change that!

Though the journey to get there may not be a cruise; there may well be savage storms, starvation, shipwrecks, sea swims and snakebites, let your declaration be like Paul  “I believe God that it will be just the way it was told to me”

 

One final thought: I went to Malta a few years back to attend a conference for the company I worked for at the time – but I went by Emirates Airbus (thankfully), not a prisoners sailing ship. Luke tells us in Acts 28 Malta was the island they swam to after the shipwreck.  According to tradition, and supported by archaeological facts, Malta was one of the first Roman colonies to convert to Christianity. We never know what God will do with the storms and shipwrecks we go through when He is taking you where He wants you to be. Who knows, maybe a whole nation will end up following Jesus because you believed that what God SAID will be SEEN

 

Gareth Nicholson

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