March 18, 2011

Driven by the Storm

No blogging for me in February. My life has been consumed with writing a study based on the Biblical principles behind the story of blogger/author Ann Voskamp.  Her book, One Thousand Gifts, is a raw, but beautifully written story that details Ann's life and her coming to a heart of trust in the goodness and love of God. From her earliest memory, pain had shaped her life. Married and blessed with six children, she responded to a dare from a friend and began writing a list of 1,000 things she loved. Soon she realized she was writing out the gifts---the blessings of God. She was recording grace in the smallest of gifts, in the moments of life. This discipline changed Ann's perspective and she began to see how much she had been missing because she had never slowed to notice. She began to write it down. Everywhere grace.

In Acts 27, the Apostle Paul is on a ship headed to Rome to stand before Caesar. He was a prisoner but he was also very in tune with Christ. Admonishing the crew, he told them that they needed to stop the journey because of the time of the year-----the weather would turn he warned, and they would not make it to their destination.

They ignored him and continued on before being engulfed in a major storm. Eventually the crew dropped the anchors in a effort to slow the ship down but it was being driven fiercely by the wind.  They were out of control of the vessel and, in effort to get it under control, threw most of the boats contents overboard. The driving storm went on day and night. It seemed it would never stop.

Sometimes we feel that we are in the middle of a storm that won't end, that seems to drive us straight to destruction.  We are carried away by circumstances that seem out of our control because control is an illusion. For Ann her storm began as a small child and the tragedy of losing her sister caused her life to be storm-driven.

Paul after seeing the crew going without nourishment for two weeks, urged them to eat.  He broke bread and gave thanks to God and fed the crew just before they would see a bay and hoist the sail to try to find a way off the tattered ship and onto the shore.

Ann says in her book, "eucharisteo (giving thanks) always proceeds the miracle." It certainly did in this record of Paul's shipwreck.  ]Crashing an out of control ship near a beach may not seem a miracle but it was!  They were no longer being driven by the storm. In an effort to beach the ship, it hit a reef offshore. They faced their choices: sink or swim. They chose to swim and all the crew waded from the sea up onto the island of Malta.

Sometimes we need to drive our wind-driven lives straight toward the beach-----shipwreck or not we will choose to sink or swim. The other choice is to continue to ride out the storm into hopelessness and starvation.

The ship's crew were blessed to have a "truth-talker" in their midst. Paul had warned them of the peril of the journey that had sent their lives reeling. Nearing the end of their horrific ride, he became the one, who with God's help, gave them hope that at some point they would finally be able to wade ashore.

I thank God for those who have pointed the way out of the storm onto the beach in my life. I pray that I can be a "truth talker" to others who are riding out their storms right now. And like Paul, I want to ride it out with them all the way through the miracle.

Mostly, I am challenged that the storm-driven times of life are the times when we must give thanks and expect the miracle. Miracles don't always bring immediate relief. They may leave a life in what seems to be a wreck. God takes us up on the shore and then we go on to the next thing. It might not be easy but we can rest a time before you have to get back on a ship for the next leg of the journey.



"Therefore I encourage you to take some food, for this is for your preservation, for not a hair from the head of any of you will perish."
Having said this, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of all, and he broke it and began to eat.
All of them were encouraged and they themselves also took food.
All of us in the ship were two hundred and seventy-six persons.
When they had eaten enough, they began to lighten the ship by throwing out the wheat into the sea.
When day came, they could not recognize the land; but they did observe a bay with a beach, and they resolved to drive the ship onto it if they could.
And casting off the anchors, they left them in the sea while at the same time they were loosening the ropes of the rudders; and hoisting the foresail to the wind, they were heading for the beach.
But striking a reef where two seas met, they ran the vessel aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern began to be broken up by the force of the waves.
The soldiers' plan was to kill the prisoners, so that none of them would swim away and escape;
but the centurion, wanting to bring Paul safely through, kept them from their intention, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land,
and the rest should follow, some on planks, and others on various things from the ship. And so it happened that they all were brought safely to land.  Acts 27:34-44 (NASB)

Eucharisto. Give thanks.