Today’s reading is Acts 27.
Have you ever been on ship or boat in the open ocean where no land or light was in sight? I remember going on a cruise with my parents and my brother and fellow Bible Journal writer Chad when I was under 10 years old. Standing outside at night on the deck with nothing in sight was not a feeling I can say I was particularly fond of. I remember thinking if I fell off the deck they would never find me. Feeling like this on a very large, world class cruise ship (where we had no storms) has me wondering how Paul and other passengers on these primitive first century boats must have felt with no electricity, GPS, limited provisions, and the terrible storms they faced.
During all these storms and troubles, what was Paul doing? Paul was still leading. Paul was still speaking the truth in what God was telling him to help others. I would guess Paul was still writing letters..some of which likely ended up as what is now part of the New Testament in the Bible. Many of his other letters we know were written while in prison. Paul was not focused on himself. Paul was focused on making an impact on others for God’s kingdom despite his circumstances.
This is the opposite of what human nature is. When I am facing challenging times, I become very self-focused and fearful. The fear is focused on me and what could go wrong in my life or the life of my family. It can consume me, and it’s all about me.
Paul was focused on God..not his problems. 1 John 4:16 says, “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in Him.” Reading on, 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…” Not only does verse 18 tell us when we are focused on love, and not on ourselves, we don’t fear, but since verse 16 tells us God is love…I like to trade out the word love for God in verse 18. It then reads… ‘There is no fear in God, but perfect God casts out fear.’ If we continue to read on in 1 John 4, we see more verses about how this focus on God means we are called to love others. 1 John 4:21 says, “And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
Don’t hear me wrong, it is absolutely ok to come to God in prayer and ask for what we want when we come with a humble heart and the right intentions. Jesus makes this very clear, as well does the book of James. God wants you and your whole heart, and He wants you to come to Him with your struggles needs. My intention of having us reflect on our prayer life and thoughts is not so that we don’t come to God with our challenges, but rather a nudge for us to reflect further on our thoughts, hearts, and actions. I’ve written before that expectancy theory says that which we focus on expands. Are we focusing more on God which means we are focusing on love which leads to focusing on others causing fear to dissipate..or are we focused on ourself only causing our problems and anxieties to blow up so to speak?
We see in Paul that God can make the most of our seemingly terrible circumstances to bring glory to His Kingdom and bring others to Christ. We must remember in our challenges that someone is always watching. When they see our unfailing trust in God and how we continue to love on and bless others despite our personal problems, they see the love of Jesus in us. They will then want to know more about the ultimate sacrifice He made on the cross for us. They will desire that same peace that passes human understanding that’s rooted in His love