If you are just stopping in, this is the eleventh post in my 31 Day Series: I Wear Pink. Join me as I share my breast cancer journey. You can find the previous posts here.
Each Sunday I share a devotional or story I have written with our church family. On the Sunday after my diagnosis I shared about Paul being shipwrecked. What very few people knew was that I had just been shipwrecked myself. Four days earlier, in my classroom with students, I had received a phone call telling me that my biopsy showed that I had breast cancer. We had told our family and I had seen a surgeon. I had laid on the couch for two days in shock. I didn’t know what my cancer journey would be or where it would end. My husband and I were hanging on to each other and to God. This is what I shared that morning.
In Acts 27 & 28 we read about a very exciting voyage of Paul. Paul was a prisoner on a ship heading to Rome. The ship was battered by a hurricane force storm for two long weeks. The sailors threw cargo and tackle overboard in an effort to lighten the ship and save themselves. These men were wet, tired, scared, hungry and more than a little seasick. Paul, who has never been known for keeping his mouth shut, piped up from his cell, “Men you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, “Do not be afraid Paul you must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you. So keep up your courage men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.”
Perhaps not unreasonably, the sailors decided to kill Paul and the rest of the prisoners, if the ship went down just in case they might be lucky enough to survive. Fortunately, a centurion vetoed the killing of the prisoners when the ship was lost near the island of Malta. The survivors lay on the beach, grateful to be alive, bruised and shaken. The exciting story continues but this is what I want to focus on.
Now if I had just been shipwrecked, I would be laying on the beach, kissing the sand, waiting for an ambulance or someone to come, and take care of all of my needs. I would want warm blankets and a deep mattress, a nice cup of tea or coffee and room service. But Paul is not a room service kind of guy. He is one of the tough guys. Earlier in the book of Acts, Paul was stoned and left for dead, but then got up to preach to the people who had just pelted him with rocks. No, Paul hits the beach after being shipwrecked, from a prison cell, with no food for weeks, and starts to gather brushwood to build a fire. Paul was just as exhausted as everyone else, but he did what everyone needed. He immediately got up and began to serve.
Have you ever been shipwrecked? Shipwrecks come in all shapes and sizes. Some shipwrecks are the loss of a job, a life threatening illness, an unplanned pregnancy, sudden death or divorce. Others wrecks might be better hidden, an addiction, childhood abuse or neglect, poverty or riches, undeserved criticism, loneliness, eating disorders or watching someone self destruct. Shipwrecks are cataclysmic and life altering. But when the wind stops blowing it’s time to kindle a fire.
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,That February morning, I was shipwrecked and I knew it. But God rescued me. He saved me from sin, then He saved me from illness. I learned to trust Him not only to keep me out of that which I do not want to go through, but to trust Him in it, no matter what. He is the God who can ransom, redeem and restore. He gives us beauty for ashes. And a garment of praise instead of despair.
because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lords favor and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. ~Isaiah 61:1-3
And when the wind stops blowing, it is time to kindle a fire.