Thursday, September 25, 2008

Surviving a Shipwreck/Snake-Bite Kind of Day

I'm having a bad day. No, not because of an impending financial crisis that we're all waiting on. I'll wait and feel bad about that when it happens! Truth be told, my bad day is one of my own making. I'm in one of those Jeremiah kind of moods when I'm tempted to whine to the Lord about a great many things, but I don't want to get started on that list, because it wouldn't do any good...who's going to waste time reading someone else's complaints.

In the midst of my funk, however, God managed to encourage me in a reading from Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson. In a chapter entitled Sometimes It Takes A Shipwreck, Batterson recounts one of the Apostle Paul's bad days as recorded in Acts 27 and 28....actually, it was a bad two hurricane force winds!

To make a long story short, Paul is one his way to face Caesar in Rome and possibly his own death; the ship runs aground off the shore of Malta after being tossed around for TWO WEEKS, and when Paul and 275 other passengers finally make it to shore, they are greeted by "unusually kind" islanders by bring them food.

So Paul's bad day is over? Nope...Paul, as a helpful guest, brings some wood to put on the fire, then a snake crawls out from the bundle to bite him...a poisonous one! we're talking bad day...shipwrecked AND snake bitten! But God miraculously spares his life (this in NO way endorses the handling of poisonous snakes as a worship practice!), and the people think he is a god.

Paul is taken to see Publius, the chief official of the Island, whose father is gravely ill. Paul pray for him, and heals him. Others come from all over the island and are healed. In the process, you can be sure Paul shared the gospel with everyone he could. He had to wait three months to continue his journey, but what a great three months that must have been.

Still, the impact of the Gospel was dependent on the shipwreck and the snake bite Paul endured. The lesson: God doesn't back off on our bad days. He's ready and willing and able to take what happens to us, to make something happen IN us and AROUND us for His glory and for the benefit of those we meet.

My bad day will pass, probably a lot more quickly when I realize that God is here ready to use me to bless someone with some good news...unless I just sit and whine and complain about what's out there, instead of asking God what He wants to do "in me" in the midst of storms, shipwrecks and snakebites. Remember that Paul, who was shipwrecked and snake-bitten, also wrote these words: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:28)

God does not promise that this process will be easy or pain-free, but only that He won't waste anything that happens to us! So if you're having a bad day, don't forget God is the expert in dealing with bad days, and in redeeming them for purposes we can't even imagine. But you have to trust Him like Paul did, even when you're wet, exhausted, and snake-bitten. The only way to short-circuit the miracle is to opt out of the process and to settle for whining! So if you're having a bad day, you can keep complaining or you can be transformed for a higher purpose! It's your choice!

By the way, if you want to see a clip of Anthony Hopkins as Paul on Malta after the snake bite, click here:

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