The Journey is just as important, and many times more so, than the destination. It may be hard to fully realize this in the midst of our journey that we call life but as we come to the end of a season, a year, a decade or our life we can look back and see that God's hand was there the whole time even when we didn't see it, feel it, understand it or choose to listen to God in the middle of the storms of life. For me (as I am sure is the case for many of you) this is evident on many levels in my own life. It amazes me how one decision can alter the course of your entire life. What's even more amazing is how someone else's single decision can alter the course of your life.
For me I can look back and see that there were many things that led to my moving from Nampa to Boise and there were many things that led to my attending the schools that I did and meeting the people that I did and that the timing of it all was in God's hand.
God knew that when I moved to Boise I would need to be in the Capital High school district because I needed to meet someone named Kevin McNeese. He knew that a year after graduating high school this acquantence would be used as a catalyst to bring me back to church and subsequently renew my relationship with God. But God didn't stop there, he knew that I would meet my eventual wife because of that friendship and that it would also lead to the family and life that I am now living.
And all of it would not have happened if my Mother had not moved to Boise, but instead had chose to stay in Nampa. I would have never grown up in the Boise School System, meeting the people that I did, being influenced by the people who surrounded me, like my choir teach Linda Schmidt, my youth pastor, Dave, or my best friend Kevin.
I couldn't see any of that as a 9 year old kid leaving his home for a completely new life and situation. But God did.
Today we read about another portion of Paul's Journey; his voyage. He is making his way to Rome by way of Boat and he he finds himself in the midst of a storm that lasts two weeks and ends in being shipwrecked on an island. I can promise you that in the midst of the storm he and the rest of the crew on that boat did not see an end to the misery. They were just trying to survive. They were trying to live one more day, and when it finally came crashing down and the ship is lost and they are washed ashore, they joy of being alive had to have been mixed fairly heavily with the feeling of despair at being pushed of the course and stuck on an island.
Life did not go according to plan that year.
But God had a plan. NOT ONE of the people aboard that ship was lost. NOT ONE! that is amazing. They didn't have the national guard or the coast guard ready to respond at a moments notice. God's hand was on those people and their lives.
The Journey was as important as the destination. God detoured Paul and as a result he was able to minister and share the gospel with the people of that island and those who survived the shipwreck for 3 months. I have to believe that Paul probably had a pretty captive audience on that island. He had warned them that there was danger coming before the journey had even started and when it came not one person was lost. He had their attention.
And when they finally do arrive in Rome, I have to wonder how many of those 276 passengers went further into the Roman Empire sharing the good news of the gospel and the fact that God had saved them in the midst of the storm. When all hope was gone, God was there.
This is our story as well. WE have an opportunity to share with people the ways that God has direected our lives and how he has saved us from more than just the storms of life. He has saved us for all eternity. But the cool thing is he is alive and active in our lives on a day to day basis and as a result we can tell people that we survived the "storms".
There is nothing more powerful than our testimony. People want to hear and see authenticity in the lives of believers. They are hungry for it. I love to share how God was shaping and directing me for the man that I am now and I never even knew it. He brought people into my life that influenced me and helped me to find God and as a result have given me the best gift anyone could have ever given me. An introduction to the almighty.
Sure, I still had to make the decision to follow, trust and obey. But that is a daily decision that each of us has to make. Will we follow, trust and obey the Lord or will we chose a way of our own making? Some days we listen to our Abba God, others we set out into our own frontier. When we choose our own way we will always look back on the journey, our voyage, with regret and will see plainly the missed opportunities had we only listened. There is a reason that people often say "hindsight is 20/20" The great news is that God has not forsaken us and still walks with us. He is there to guide us and lead us if we will let him, and will listen to him. But often we will still have to endure the consequences of our decisions.
Paul himself tells us this very thing in his speech to the sailors in Acts 27. He tells them (after all the food runs out) “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. 22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 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.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. 26 Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.”
They are told that their lives will be spared and that God is going to make sure that they make it to Rome but that the ship will nevertheless run aground. There are always consequenses to our choosing to listen or not to listen when we are given Godly counsel or advice.
Had I chose to ignore Kevin's request to come to church with him I would surely be in a very different place in life. I may never have met Cherry and subsequently never had my two amazing children, Noah and Ella. but the consequences in this case were in accordance with God's plan.
God knew the course that my life would take and he made sure there were people in my life in whom (if i chose to allow them to) would influence me. The same is true of you today. Who are you choosing to listen to? What voyage are you on right now? Are you in the middle of a major storm? Have you gotten there because of your own decisions? God has not abandon you. And even though you may have consequences that you will have to endure for the choices that you have made, God has not abandon you. God can still make a way for you to "get to Rome"
But the question becomes, who are you going to let captain the ship of your life? And whose voyage are you going to be on? Yours of your own choosing or the one that God has planned for you?