The Battle After The Battle
“And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita. And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.” Acts 28:1-6
The ship was lost. The storm had taken it, but every last person aboard survived, all because of the faith of Paul. It was Paul to whom the angel visited while the poor ship was being tossed, and it was Paul who spoke confidently for His Lord, and it was Paul to whom the captain of the guard listened. They all made it to safety by the grace of God, through the faith of Paul. So, when I read of what happened next, as written in the above passage, I can see my own life.
Satan never looks at our battle victories and gives up. He immediately goes right back on the offensive. We see herein that, after the wreck, Paul is gathering sticks for the fire, representing to us the rebuilding of our situation after the trial. Paul is helping those who are helping him and the rest of the survivors and Satan attacks him again.
So many times in my life coming out of a trial, I find myself beaten down until there is almost nothing left, and I try to remain calm and simply reliant upon The Lord. Truthfully, it was all He Who brought me through to this point. I used to snap long before the worst of my trials because I knew what was coming after years of cyclic behavior. But, after coming through, praising God for the triumph, and trying to remain humble and loving, along comes the enemy attacking me again, only now, when I thought I was getting a breather, I’m tired, short tempered and ready to snap. This is when everyone seems to be paying attention to my every move.
And that’s what we see in the passage. Everyone’s eyes were upon Paul. He got attacked when he was trying to rebuild his life. And they all expected to see him fall over dead. But he shook it off. His immediate reaction was to shake it off as though it was no big deal. How I pray for the strength of The Lord in those times of my life! The battle after the battle – how I desire to be able to be more like Christ and shake it off like it’s no big deal.
Yet, even after he simply shook it off, they thought he would still have a reaction to the attack. They expected him to swell up or die suddenly. Yet, there was nothing. Just like my life now, the people around me expect me to explode for quite some time after the event. After all, that is what I used to do. I used to dwell on it, too, complaining forever, it seemed. So, they wait, and they watch, for that opportunity to say, “See? He hasn’t changed at all!” In being able to say that, they could dismiss my claims of service and servitude to Christ. May God help me to remember this the next battle down the road!
But what happened next is what we should all want for the lives around us. He had no adverse reaction, and so they thought he was a god. I don’t mean to say that we should want them worshipping us or viewing us as gods. I am saying, however, that they should see holiness and righteousness within us, such that, when they applaud us and our efforts, or praise our patience and understanding, we can have the opportunity to redirect that focus to God! Hallelujah!
I pray this morning, that as I traverse the trade routes of life, even while navigating a sea of turmoil, distrust, and selfishness in the workplace, I can find myself surrendered to the will of my Father in Heaven, demonstrating the Love of God within me, and allowing patience to have its way in continuing to change me to be more like Christ, so that my co-workers who always seem to be watching can see God in me. I pray the same in your life, gentle reader. May The Lord, our God, work in and through you, as well, in the same manner.