“Last night an angel of the 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.’ – Acts 27:23 – 24 (TNIV)
“Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god” – Acts 28: 1 – 6 (TNIV)
This passage of scripture has been a favorite for a while. I am encouraged by it because I realize that Paul knew his purpose and he was not going to allow anything to deter him from accomplishing it, not even a snakebite, nor a shipwreck (Acts 27:27), nor the threat of being murdered (Acts 27:42), nor hunger (Acts 27:34), nor fear (27:29), nor hubris (28:6).
Nothing was going to separate him from the job he had been given, and the purpose he knew he was called to achieve. Paul had his orders, he knew his mission, and he was in the process of carrying it out, without interruption. Paul knew that a snakebite nor any other obstacle was going to take him out, so when others saw peril, he simply remembered his purpose, which led him to shake the snake into the fire.
So the question is, what is your purpose, and what is the “snake” that you may have to shake into the fire so that you are successful in accomplishing it? What are you sold out to, focused to achieve and wholeheartedly convinced about doing, so that nothing separates you from achieving your resolve? Paul knew that he was created to make a difference and called to make a change in the world. Do you believe that your life has a purpose and what difference are you called to make, one day at a time?
When faced with the perils of life, and they will come, I encourage you to focus on the Savior versus the snake and to not let momentary challenges nor insurmountable odds deter you from accomplishing your purpose(s), as revealed to you by God. In conclusion, be encouraged by Paul’s words below:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake, we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” – Romans 8:35 – 39 (TNIV)
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