2009-03-03 - Learning from a Snake
Acts 27:7-12, 20-37, 28:1-10
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." (Acts 27:21)
The commander did not listen to Paul. Paul could tell the journey to Rome, Italy was very dangerous to the ship, cargo, and more importantly lives. They came across some high winds, which made it difficult to navigate. The commander ignored Paul's advice and listened to those with a nautical background, rather than Godly intervention.
The crew sailed on, and suffered the consequences. Paul was not surprised when they were swept into a storm. The men had given up. They stopped eating, convinced they would die at sea. All this could have been avoided, if the men listened to Paul, and Paul told them so. He wasn't being arrogant; he wanted them to comprehend the magnitude of God's power, and when it's in one's best interest to obey Him. Paul also told the men to keep their courage, for no one would die, but the ship would be destroyed.
He took no credit for this news, for it came to him only by Godly revelation. In the midst of dire circumstances, Paul didn't neglect God, or think his master had failed them. Paul saw trials positively, as an opportunity to grow. This would be a test of the sailors' wills, and a leap of faith in an invisible God, rather than relying on their sight and knowledge. God took care of the men, and they ended up on an island called Malta.
The island natives of Malta made Paul and the others a fire, to keep warm from the cold rain. Paul helped by placing sticks on the fire, and in the midst of assisting, a poisonous snake gripped his hand. Paul shook the beast off, and it landed into the fire.
If Paul began to focus on the snake, and the harm it could bring him, it would have made the situation worse. Paul could have also concentrated on being shipwrecked, lost, and in a strange place, instead of focusing on God's provisions. Paul passed the test. He didn't let that snake bring him down. The islanders gave them supplies for the voyage, and Paul and the other men were on their way.
Although their time at Malta was temporary, God's presence was magnified.
Lord, Let me not focus on problems, but be grateful that You have established a means beyond the problems. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
The author welcomes comments or questions on this devotional article.