I was reading Acts 28 yesterday about the experience Paul had after they became ship wrecked on the island of Malta. Having nearly drown once their ship became grounded and they swam to shore, Paul was making a fire to warm them all. As he was gathering wood a viper came out and fastened itself to Paul’s hand. When the natives saw this happen they believed Paul was a murderer and though he survived the ship wreck, justice was taking place for surely he would die from the viper’s bite. But Paul just shook the viper off and went on with making the fire. When Paul’s hand didn’t swell, and he didn’t die as they expected, they changed their minds and considered him a god.
I am festinated with this story because it reminds me of Jesus’ last words to the disciples right before He ascended back into heaven…
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:15-18
Paul was doing just as Jesus said, he was going into all the world and preaching the Gospel, and he was experiencing the signs Jesus said would follow those who believed.
The men from the ship were welcomed to stay and after they were there for three days Paul found there was a leading man on the island who was sick with recurring fever and dysentery. Paul went to pray for him, laid his hands on him and he was healed. Once the people of the island saw this they brought the rest who had diseases to be healed by Paul.
After three months it was time for the men to set sail and when they left the people of the island supplied them with everything they needed.
I am reminded that life will have ship wrecks along the way. I will find myself about to drown, with waves rolling over me. There will be snakes that fasten themselves to me to cause fear and hopelessness. But as Paul had a word from God that he would be brought before Caesar, he believed he would live through all that came to him. Paul chose to not give into fear, but rather to trust he would make it to shore, and to shake off what was meant to kill him. Ship weeks and vipers have the power to bring fear that paralyses so that I will not carry out the calling God has for me. But on the other side of ship wreck and vipers there are those who need to know the power and love of God for healing and salvation.
Oh, Lord, may I choose to fear you above all that comes my way…trusting you will get me safe to shore and shake off all the evil that tries to attach to me, for I believe there are miracles on the other side that will bring You much glory and praise!