Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

01/30/2019

The Life Church Team of Edmond Oklahoma

 

Responding To Life's Detours

  Have you ever felt stuck in life? A dream job on hold. A relationship strained. A plateau in your goals. Or it might be financial burdens, chronic illness, or watching a loved one make poor choices.We’ve all been there, right?

 

  In Acts chapter twenty-seven, the apostle Paul was taken prisoner for sharing the gospel and placed on a boat bound for Rome to stand trial. Before the crew could get too comfortable, a violent storm sprang up. The ship eventually broke apart and every man on board was stuck on the remote island of Malta for a long winter.

 

  Paul’s faith literally led him into a storm. Unfortunately, faith doesn’t prevent storms in our lives. Sometimes it can be difficult to reconcile God’s unfailing love for us when the storms of life throw us off course. This isn’t how we planned it, so now what do we do? Paul shows us three ways to stay the course with God when we feel stuck in life.

 

  1) Surrendering to the detours is God’s grace period for us to grow. “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” (Acts 27:25-26 NIV). Paul encouraged others with God’s Word. Even when it feels like we’re off course, God can still get us where He wants us to go. (Prompt us to be what He wants us to be). Paul is going to get to Rome, but first God has placed him on a detour. God is developing our character today for life just ahead. Remembering that Jesus is always standing guard for our good can help silence any grumbling. “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28.20). “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8.28).

 

  2) “Snakes” happen, just shake them off.Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects” (Acts 28:3, 5 NIV). When his unfortunate situation went from bad to worse, Paul could have become bitter and sunk his thoughts deep into despair. Even the islanders knew this snakebite could result in death. Instead, he shook it off and moved on with a mission to share Christ with others. We can move beyond our feelings and disappointments so that the testimony of Jesus remains center stage regardless of our circumstances. It was this same Paul who wrote: “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3.13-14).

 

  3) No matter where you are, God’s presence and power are accessible.Near the shore where we landed was an estate belonging to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us and treated us kindly for three days. As it happened, Publius’s father was ill with fever and dysentery. Paul went in and prayed for him, and laying his hands on him, he healed him. Then all the other sick people on the island came and were healed” (Acts 28:7-9 NLT). Paul had hoped to be in Rome, but right now, he was on the island of Malta. So Paul shared the gospel, prayed for the sick, and healed a man. Despite being a prisoner of his own circumstances, Paul allowed God’s power to move through him to help others,(Ministry). Reminds us of Peter and John on the Temple steps: “’Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’ The cripple jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him” (Acts3.6-10). Two quick observations here. 1) Our ministering to others in the name of Jesus, results in their praising God. 2) Our ministering to the needs of others causes the world to notice the power and presence of God in our lives.

 

  So, the question becomes: Are we in a season of waiting? We have a choice when we feel shipwrecked or when God takes us on a detour. We can sit and wait in misery to get off the island or we can make the most of where God has us. Instead of moping about his shipwreck in Malta, Paul turned the island into his ministry, his personal assignment from God. How will we respond to our detours?

 

  I’m indebted to The Life Church Team of Edmond Oklahoma for this article. I do hope my small additions have been appropriate. —Randall