"Men, you ought to have followed my advice and not to have set sail from Crete and incurred this damage and loss. Yet now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will e no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me, saying, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.' Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on a certain island." Acts 27:21b-26
Paul was not above giving into the temptation to use a few of the most satisfying words in any language, "I told you so." Yet, he did not linger over them. There was still the pressing matter of being in the same boat with a ship of fools.
At this point, Dr. Phil's classic two-part question comes to mind. It is always a healthy reminder to any man interested in winning an argument. "Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?" Good questions.
Cong. Bob McEwen often says, "The Founders got it right, and in the right order. 'Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.' Liberty and happiness are of precious little value without life."
Paul may have given the right advice, but he was in the same boat with those who ignored it. He was tossed by the same waves, and being driven off course by the same wind. His life was still in jeopardy, no matter how right he had been.
Note to self: Being proved right among people who are in the wrong only gives short-term satisfaction. The impact of their decisions may have proven you right, but it is a bitter pill to swallow when the consequences of their choices are still impacting your life. It is like patting yourself on the back while someone else is still hitting you in the face.
Paul may have enjoyed a brief moment of reinforcement, but he quickly shifted his emphasis towards encouragement. This is always a great way to tap down the arrogance that comes with being right. It avoids generating resentment that is often caused by being proved wrong.
Christians who are proven right do little to create hunger and thirst for righteousness in people, by serving crow and force-feeding it to those who are already gagging on their own errors in judgment. Stop serving this slop.
Paul's advice may have been right, but his efforts at damage control in the middle of the crisis is where the application of God's direction, protection and correction would be felt the most. Paul was the man of the hour, and the Roman Centurion could tell time. He knew a leader in a crisis when he saw one, and he wisely followed Paul's counsel.
Paul received a visit from an angel of the Lord in the middle of the shipwreck. This encounter reminded him of two things. He belonged to God, and he was a servant of God. Paul drew courage from both, and passed it on to those around him. Good to know.
Paul's fear was put to flight by his faith. "I believe GOD," trumps" I fear THIS!"... EVERY TIME.
It is tempting to say,
"I don't believe this!"
"I don't deserve this!"
"I don't like this!"
"I don't accept this!"
"I won't put up with this!" and so on.
What is T.H.I.S.? It is The Hurt I Suffer.
Paul didn't deserve what was happening to him. He was in the middle of it, anyway. Life is a gift from God, but He has a way of wrapping it up in some very scary paper, with a ribbon all tied up in knots.
Happiness is rarely the initial response generated by a surprise package marked "Special Delivery" and "COD." Often a gift from Heaven can make a person's life feel like a living hell. Looks can be deceiving, and feelings come and go. What's a person to do?
Believe God. Paul did. You can too. Praying is believing. Fearing is doubting. Don't delay. Pray. It's never too late, and rarely too early.
Prayer has a way of taking fear and transforming it into faith. One of God's great gift to His children is the offer of intimate conversation with Him in the middle of an intense, intimidating, and immediate crisis. Prayer feeds courage. Prayerlessness feeds discouragement. Order off the right menu.
Note to self #2: Prayer does not require eloquence from you, just dependence on God. Don't wait til you feel like praying to put your fear in God's hands. Holding onto fear will never turn it into faith. Let go of T.H.I.S.
Suffering is inevitable, but fear is disposable. When rough water tries to sink your boat, throw fear overboard.
One of Paul's greatest assets was his capacity to remind himself that he was expendable. Too many preachers think they are indispensable, when in truth they are like a hand in a pail of water. While their hand is in the bucket they stir things up, but when their hand is removed the water settles down. It doesn't matter if a preacher pulls his hand out of the pail or if he kicks the bucket, the next word out of the congregation's mouth will simply be, "Next!"
Note to self #3: Get over yourself. Die to self. Paul did. You can too. Daily.
Encouragement can be infused into ay crisis du jour, by praying through it, not by talking about it. Prayer reminds the prayer warrior that he belongs to God, and serves Him without any claim to survival. Revival is a term that refers to new life being given to something or some one that has died. Praying for survival without longing for revival feeds the delusion that we are indispensable, when in fact we are expendable.
There is great encouragement and freedom that comes with the release of fear. By praying to and believing in God, fear is jettisoned, and frees the prayer warrior from the crucible of the disposable. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!