Friday, April 13, 2012


Recently, I made the decision to make Bible reading a daily habit.  

Despite how involved I have been in church from time to time over the years, I never did quite make it an imperative to read my Bible everyday.  Some people would be ashamed to share information like that. But, not me.  You know why? Because, I think to myself...  "If I've come this far by faith, without having spent as much time in the Word as I should, then what heights can I look forward to in my faith and my future, now that I AM spending this much time in the Word?"  Now THAT'S something to shout about!

Let me share with you where this renewed commitment originated...
Last summer, I volunteered to help out at my church as a Children's Ministry teacher.  The Children's Ministry Director put me in charge of the 2nd graders. 

They were as cute as little buttons, hovering in that stage of life that is half baby and half 'tween.

When I walked into the classroom, I surveyed their little faces, smiled and introduced myself.  Several children raised their hands to ask me a question.  

"Yes?", I asked with a smile, pointing to a little girl at the table closest to me.

"Ms. Karen... Um.. Is all of that your real hair?", she asked.

Okay, kid.  Is this really how we're going to start this out? 

"All right, class", I said, ignoring her question, "Let's get started..."

Those little doll babies have been such a blessing in my life.  Inappropriate questions abound, excess volume has been prevalent, and bathroom requests in the middle of praise and worship have been an epidemic.  But in the midst of all of this, a lot of learning has taken place.  Both for the children and myself.

It hit me during my last 3-month rotation, when we were discussing the topic of "Patience".

One particular lesson centered around Acts 27: 13-44, the story of Paul in the shipwreck.  Here's the story in summary...


Paul, who used to be called Saul, had been a strict Pharisee.  He hated the Jews that believed that Jesus was the Messiah, and demonstrated his hate by persecuting and prosecuting any Jew who spoke the name of Jesus.  One day, while he was on the road to Damascus, a light from heaven appeared around him and said, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?".  Saul asked, "Who are you, Lord?", and the Lord answered, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting" (Acts 9:3-5).  "Now get to your feet!  For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness.  You are to tell the world what you have seen and what I will show you in the future" (Acts 26:16-17).

From that point on, Paul changed his views completely, and began lifting the name of Jesus, and leading others to Christ.

For his new found faith, he was put in prison many times.  He suffered from floggings, hunger, thirst, and even shipwrecks, during transportation.  Acts 27:13-44 talks about one of those shipwrecks. 

During one of his imprisonments, Paul had appealed to plead his case before Caesar, the Roman emperor. 

It was agreed that his appeal should be honored, so he and several other prisoners, under the watch of a Roman officer named Julius, set sail for Italy.

It was late in the fall, so the weather was becoming dangerous for sea travel.  Paul tried to warn the ship's officers about it, but they chose to follow the captain's orders to forge ahead.

The ship was tossed and turned amidst the typhoon-strength winds.  They began throwing cargo overboard, and some of the ship's gear, as they became hopeless that the ship would stay afloat.  

Paul told them that an angel of God had come to him and said that despite the story weather, each and every one of them would, in fact, make it to Rome safely.  Their lives would be spared, but the ship itself wasn't going to make it.

Days later, in the middle of the night, as they sensed that land was near, the sailors dropped a weighted line and saw that they were getting dangerously close to being driven against the rocky shoreline.  They dropped anchors, and some of them tried to abandon the ship by using the lifeboat.

Paul told the commanding officer, "You're all gonna die unless all the sailors stay aboard".  So, the ropes to the lifeboat were cut.

Everyone was so stressed, that Paul had to urge them to eat.  "You have been so worried that you haven't touched food for two weeks.  Please eat something now for your own good.  For not a hair of your heads will perish."  He then took a piece of bread, gave thanks to God, and everyone else, feeling encouraged, began to eat.

The next morning, things happened just as Paul said it would.  The ship ran aground, and the stern began to break apart.  The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners to make sure that they didn't swim ashore and escape, but the commanding officer wouldn't allow it.  He ordered the ones who could swim to jump overboard first and head to land.  Everyone else held on to ship debris, and in the end, everyone escaped safely to shore, just as the angel of God had promised.


What I got from this lesson..

When God promises you something, you must patiently wait for it to come to fruition.  This journey in life may not be smooth sailing all of the time, but that doesn't mean that God isn't going to make good on His promises.

He might not always save your ship-- your awesome job,  your dream home, your luxury car, your endless list of friends-- but He can save you, if you let Him.

Your dependency should be on Him, not on a ship.  All ships are man-made, and subject to destruction.  But if and when they fall apart, and you're still standing, you should praise God for sparing your life.

Because as long as you're still here, there's another chance for you to build and to grow.  And that gift should NEVER be taken for granted.

As I type this at home, 2 months after being laid off from my job, I praise God for sparing my life, even though one of my ships has capsized.  The fact that I am still standing is evidence enough that there is more for me to build and grow.

Unstuck and Unstoppable is just one seed that has sprouted in me since I've made it "ashore".  

Are any of your ships in danger of capsizing?  What are you going to do?  Stop eating, and fret in a corner?  Or are you going to grab onto some debris and swim for shore?  

I say "Swim, baby, swim!"

All of this from a Children's Ministry lesson.  Unbelievable.


P.S. If you enjoyed this post, please "like" Unstuck and Unstoppable on Facebook, and share this post with a friend!


Jonathan said...

Last week I had the privalage to hear that part of scripture preached to me. The topic was along these lines, "can others look at you for courage." Paul, in the mist of the storm trusted in what the Lord had told him and he took courage. Regardless of what was going on around him, he believed and focused on truth of God's word. Those sailors in their heart was hopeless, but they looked upon the Apostle Paul and was encouraged.

Karen, you are the encouragement to me. I am going to grab my board and swim baby swim. The Christian life is not a easy one and God never promised that it would be. He did say, "I will never leave you nor forsake you!" Praise God!!! Thank you Karen for your wonderful testimony!!!


Karen said...

And thank YOU for stopping by! I'm so glad that this post was encouraging to you. We just have to believe and keep our focus, regardless of the wreckage around us. Keep swimming...

Jen said...

Karen, enjoying your blog. I had to activate a dummy facebook account to read it! Is there a website other than facebook to get to your blog?
Full of wisdom and encouragement, I loved it!
Jennifer Rheingold

Karen said...

Thanks for the generous compliment, Jen! You can get it delivered right to your inbox. Just go to the top of the page, and in the sidebar, under "Stay Connected", click on "Subscribe by Email".

dionne said...

I had been reading earlier this week about Paul's testimony before King Agrippa so when I read your blog it was right on time. Powerful word of encouragement. I particularly like the idea of how the Lord may not spare our ship but will spare our lives through His grace. Fortunately, Paul did not get caught up in his own fear or perplexity of the moment--as I am sure it was a hair raising chilly ride--that he could not hear the Lord and encourage/direct others boldly. thank you Karen.
I too have found while reading the Bible to my children and trying to dramatize it for them--the Lord will often speak and encourage me from something i had not noticed before through their questions or a subtle point overlooked before.
Let's keep on reading His Word! Blessings and thanks again for the invitation.

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...