I can’t believe we’re already to the end of Acts in our Bible Reading Plan. It’s been amazing to read through Acts and hear the stories of how the church was born. The good news, there’s still more to come, the bad news, this is where we say goodbye to Luke. If there’s one thing we can learn from Luke it’s the fact we can trust his writing. With his investigative and journalistic style, Luke has navigated us beautifully to this point in the story.
A Different Perspective
Up to this point we’ve seen Paul attacked by mobs, left for dead, thrown in prison, storms at sea, and now shipwrecked on the small island of Malta. I have to be honest, there have been times I’ve looked to God and thought, seriously? You call Paul, give him a mission, equip him for ministry, guarantee he will get to Rome, but he has to go through all this stuff first? Then it hit me…and sorry If I’m late to the dance on this…it seems as if Satan doesn’t want Paul to get to Rome.
It wasn’t until the snake bite that I began to think along the lines of Satan’s attacks and God’s provision. Up to that point there was a part of me wrestling with the thought that God was using these trials as a means to communicate his power working through Paul. I do think God got the glory for getting Paul through each of these circumstances, but I don’t think God caused the circumstances.
Now, we have the ability to look ahead and see exactly why Satan wouldn’t want Paul to go to Rome. Especially when we know that at one point in the future 80% of the entire Roman world will profess to be Christian! It’s still a long road to get there and a lot of blood is still to be shed, but again, we have the privilege to see the full effect of Paul’s ministry in Rome. It’s no wonder we can add “snake bitten” to Paul’s resume, Satan just doesn’t want Paul to make it to Rome.
Not to be confused by the terrible 80’s song by the band Great White, “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” is an idiom for “when you are frightened to do something again because you had an unpleasant experience doing it the first time (Cambridge Dictionaries Online).”
[QUICK STORY] When I was growing up I loved to play at my dads work bench. He had an old drill that I especially liked to use. There was one problem, it had a short in the cord. This meant that I would get a shock every time I plugged or unplugged the cord. I remember one time it was bad enough I could feel it starting in my hand and going up my arm. I thought to myself, “I won’t do that again!”…even though I did…
If the saying, “Once bitten, twice shy” was true of Paul, he would have stopped A LONG time ago! Place yourself in his shoes:
You’ve been in prison for two years, you get on a boat only to experience an incredible storm that lasted for over two weeks, now you’re shipwrecked about 100 miles from Italy, and on top of that, you get bit by a snake? But if Paul would have stopped at any point before Rome we wouldn’t have the book of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon! All these books (originally letters) were written while Paul was in Rome. These letters have impacted millions of people since the time they were written!
In one of those letters Paul pens a familiar and powerful verse. Allow this verse to serve as a reminder of not only what Paul did, but we should do as well today.
Ephesians 5:16-17 (NLT) 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.