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Take Courage

I was recently listening to a talk based on Acts 27 and wanted to share where God took my thinking! Paul was a prisoner and being taken to Rome to stand trial. He got as far as Crete and the weather wasn’t looking good so verse 12 tells us the officers and crew decided to aim for Phoenix, further up the coast to spend winter there in the shelter. They set off staying close to the coast. They knew where they were heading. All looked good and was well. They were on course. Then verse 14 tell us, “The weather changed abruptly and a wind of typhoon strength … blew them out to sea.”

For me, the pandemic felt like that. I knew where I was heading and God’s plans seemed ahead of me and then suddenly out of nowhere the storm in the form of the Pandemic comes and I felt blown off course, into open sea, unfamiliar and stormy waters. I could no longer see where I was heading. 

Verse 18 and 19 goes on to say, “The next day as storm force winds continued to batter the ship, the crew began throwing the cargo overboard. The following day they even took some of the ship’s gear and threw it overboard.” 

During this season I too have had to throw things unwillingly overboard…. things I thought I needed, things I relied on, things I was familiar with … Church gatherings, my familiar weekly rhythms, my music group, my volunteering… 

Verse 20 says,  “The terrible storm raged for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone.”

I have had times when I did feel hope-less.  My hopes of where I was heading, what God was doing in our lives, my dreams of what we were going to do in my husbands new retirement. I sometimes found it hard to acknowledge that to God and to be honest with how I felt in the darkness of the storm. But being honest is important and I found going for a walk through our local (often muddy!) fields helped me to sometimes find the space to let go and share those feelings and frustrations with Him, knowing He heard and understood. 

Storm approaching

But then in verses 22-25 comes the good news! Paul says to the crew, “But take courage! None of you will lose your lives, even though the ship will go down. For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said “Don’t be afraid Paul……. God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you” So take courage. For I believe God”

How wonderful. In the storm God was with Paul. The angel stood beside him. God’s presence right there with him. They were eventually shipwrecked on Malta. God didn’t get them to where they had intended. They were somewhere different. But they we all safe.

Then what happened on Malta? We read in Chapter 28 verse 2, “The people were very kind to us. They built a fire on the shore to welcome us.” God provided for them. Paul and the sailors were taken to the Chief official’s house. God used Paul to heal his father. He used him to heal all those who were sick on the island.  God provided for them where they were and then used Paul for his glory. He witnessed to God’s power and people saw and came to be healed too. What an unexpected blessing for Malta!

So where do I find myself right now? Definitely not where I intended! My life is not looking like what I had planned, but I am encouraged because it’s not my plan! I trust God that He has the bigger picture. God has moved me from focussing on what I can’t do and all the frustrations that brought, and challenged me to see what engaging mission can look like with Him where I find myself now, what is possible on my “Malta”.

The Lord has given me new insights into continuing to build relationships locally….leaving cards/food/baking on doorsteps for neighbours, friends and those on their own and still having conversations even if half way down the drive! Phoning/video calling people more often and praying over the phone. I have never done that before but the Holy Spirit uses these times to bless not only those I talk with but me too! My permitted daily exercise of a good long walk has, at times, turned into precious ‘conversation with God’ walks! 

God has inspired my creativity. I have knitted prayer angels and given/posted to those who need a reminder of Gods presence with them. I have been planning and making Easter outreach bags for our neighbours.

Prayer Angels

My fellowship Bands have been my main stay for my “spiritual health” and I have seen such Godly growth as we have deepened our relationship with Jesus and each other. The importance of the fellowship we have with God together has come into sharper focus when so much else has been “thrown overboard”. 

Being involved in the Inspire Online School of Discipleship courses has also been a real blessing. The courses have challenged, encouraged and inspired me. Without the pandemic I wouldn’t have had the time to engage so readily and it is so wonderful to have people from around the world to share God conversations with! The Lord even uses Zoom for His purposes and blessing!

The Lord is with me, right where I am and He WILL provide for me, and use me for HIS plans and purposes that I might not have seen or imagined. Paul said, “So take courage. For I believe God.” Well, so do I!

Kristene DiMarco’s song “Take Courage” reassures us that God is with us in the waiting, wherever we find ourselves. It also says “The thoughts in his mind, always higher than mine…. He’ll reveal all to come” It goes on to say “Do not forget His great faithfulness, He’ll finish all He’s begun.”

God stands with me, wherever I find myself just now. He is with me, He is faithful, He will provide for me but most importantly will use me, just where I am, for His purposes. He will finish what He has begun!

God with us

Take Courage

Slow down, take time

Breath in He said

He’d reveal what’s to come

The thoughts in His mind

Always higher than mine

He’ll reveal all to come

Take courage my heart

Stay steadfast my soul

He’s in the waiting

He’s in the waiting

Hold onto your hope

As your triumph unfolds

He’s never failing

He’s never failing

Sing praise my soul

Find strength in joy

Let His Words lead you on

Do not forget

His great faithfulness

He’ll finish all He’s begun

And You who hold the stars

Who call them each by name

Will surely keep, Your promise to me

That I will rise, in Your victory

And You who hold the stars

Who call them each by name

Will surely keep, Your promise to me

That I will rise, in Your victory!

Kristene DiMarco, Bethel Music

Liz is an Inspire Missioner in the UK 

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