“Next day, out on the high seas again and badly damaged now by the storm, we dumped the cargo overboard. The third day the sailors lightened the ship further by throwing off all the tackle and provisions. It had been many days since we had seen either sun or stars. Wind and waves were battering us unmercifully, and we lost all hope of rescue.
With our appetite for both food and life long gone, Paul took his place in our midst and said, ‘Friends, you really should have listened to me back in Crete. We could have avoided all this trouble and trial. But there’s no need to dwell on that now. From now on, things are looking up! I can assure you that there’ll not be a single drowning among us, although I can’t say as much for the ship—the ship itself is doomed. Last night God’s angel stood at my side, an angel of this God I serve, saying to me, ‘Don’t give up, Paul. You’re going to stand before Caesar yet—and everyone sailing with you is also going to make it.’ So, dear friends, take heart. I believe God will do exactly what he told me. But we’re going to shipwreck on some island or other.’
On the fourteenth night, adrift somewhere on the Adriatic Sea, at about midnight the sailors sensed that we were approaching land. Sounding, they measured a depth of 120 feet, and shortly after that ninety feet. Afraid that we were about to run aground, they threw out four anchors and prayed for daylight. Some of the sailors tried to jump ship. They let down the lifeboat, pretending they were going to set out more anchors from the bow. Paul saw through their guise and told the centurion and his soldiers, ‘If these sailors don’t stay with the ship, we’re all going down.’ So the soldiers cut the lines to the lifeboat and let it drift off….At daybreak, no one recognized the land—but then they did notice a bay with a nice beach. They decided to try to run the ship up on the beach. They cut the anchors, loosed the tiller, raised the sail, and ran before the wind toward the beach. But we didn’t make it. Still far from shore, we hit a reef and the ship began to break up.
The soldiers decided to kill the prisoners so none could escape by swimming, but the centurion, determined to save Paul, stopped them. He gave orders for anyone who could swim to dive in and go for it, and for the rest to grab a plank. Everyone made it to shore safely. Once everyone was accounted for and we realized we had all made it, we learned that we were on the island of Malta. The natives went out of their way to be friendly to us. The day was rainy and cold and we were already soaked to the bone, but they built a huge bonfire and gathered us around it….
The head man in that part of the island was Publius. He took us into his home as his guests, drying us out and putting us up in fine style for the next three days. Publius’s father was sick at the time, down with a high fever and dysentery. Paul went to the old man’s room, and when he laid hands on him and prayed, the man was healed. Word of the healing got around fast, and soon everyone on the island who was sick came and got healed. We spent a wonderful three months on Malta. They treated us royally, took care of all our needs and outfitted us for the rest of the journey.” Acts 27:18-32, 39-44 – 28:1-2, 7-10 (MSG)
If you enjoy following a schedule, it can be very frustrating when your day doesn’t happen like you plan. You are late to work, an important meeting is canceled, and an unexpected errand causes you to have to work two hours later. There are many ways that your day can not go as planned. However, when we see the daily detours as divine, we are much more likely to see God working in our midst.
Paul was headed to Rome to have an audience in front of Caesar. Paul had been falsely accused by the Jews, and he appealed to Caesar. On his journey to Rome as a prisoner, Paul had many unexpected encounters. One time in particular he was traveling by ship to arrive in Rome. The good time of the year for sailing had passed, and Paul was concerned about their safety. The centurion in charge did not heed Paul’s warning, and soon they faced a great storm at sea. Paul was trying to get to Rome, but it seemed like he just wasn’t going to get there. He might not have an opportunity to share about Jesus. As Paul was on a detour that seemed like it would derail God’s plan, God was not worried; He was still working. As the ship crumbled and Paul was floating in the ocean, he never lost faith in God’s promise that he would stand before Caesar. When they reached the island of Malta, the man in charge had a father who was ill. Paul prayed, and he was healed and many others as well. There were people on that island who had life altering illnesses and were set free by God’s power. Paul was able to share the message of Jesus to people he never expected to meet. God still had things for Paul to do. When it seemed like dying at sea would be Paul’s final destination, God used it to share His Word in unexpected ways.
On our journey, we can face unexpected delays and detours. You might be holding on to a promise in your heart, and you just can’t see how it will happen. Your detour might in fact be a divine detour. Maybe you have prayed to start a family, but you are facing years of infertility. Maybe you have an illness and believe God for healing, but you seem to be living more of life walking the halls of a hospital. Maybe you had a dream God placed in your heart, but now time has passed, and it seems impossible. There might be someone along your journey that God wants you to meet, encourage, and share the story of Jesus. If you had never faced your difficult situation, you probably would not cross paths with those people. He cares deeply about your story and your struggle, but He also cares about the people around you. He knows that there is a nurse that needs to hear about Jesus. He knows that there is a person who is facing the same battle as you and needs encouragement. He has a unique way of orchestrating the events of our lives to bring us into our God-given destiny, while allowing us to impact people on the journey. So, as you are following God and the journey does not follow a straight line, trust God to bring alignment to all of the detours along the way.
Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.