October 23, 2013

Clarifying Priorities

Maybe you are in a painful situation that you didn’t cause, something that wasn’t a result of your sin or failure or mistake. We experience those many times, don’t we? What do we do? Well, we see what God can do in a crisis through this story and we can see what God wants to do in our lives.

“We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard.” Acts 27:18

Paul experienced a situation like that. He was a prisoner on a ship headed to Rome. He told the ship’s captain that they shouldn’t sail because, although it was a sunny day, they would run into a terrible storm and their lives would be in danger. But the captain thought, “Who is this prisoner to tell me what to do. I’m an experienced sailor. I know when to sail and when not to sail.” So, out of pride, he set sail. They went right into a storm and the boat was battered and about to sink. It’s in this story that we see what God wanted to do in Paul’s life and how God used the crisis to change the men in that boat. Even though it was a problem that Paul didn’t cause, he was dramatically affected by the decisions of others. He was in the same boat with foolish men who had set sail against God’s will.

Crises can clarify our priorities. Just a few days before, these men were in port on a beautiful, sunny day loading cargo and I’m sure they were being careful with it. Some of the crates may have been labeled fragile and they took care to make sure it was safe and secure. Their goal was not so much to get Paul to Rome; that was something they had done on the side. Their main goal was to get their valuable cargo to the next port safely. But, when the storm hit and the boat was battered and shaken, they began pitching the cargo overboard so the boat wouldn’t sink and lives would be lost. The cargo that, just days before, was so valuable was now deemed worthless because they had to decide what was most important. It’s in the crises of life that we see what is most valuable. God allows a shaking in our lives, not to shake our faith but to shake our faith in things that don’t bring fulfillment and don’t last. These are great opportunities to clarify our priorities.