This is not what I signed up for
Editor's note: This column is written by By Pastor Randy Simonson of Harvestime Outreach Church.
Sometimes we interpret resistance the wrong way. We think if things don't go smoothly or the way we planned, then God is not in it. We often view tests as nothing more than an attack from the devil. These tests or trials, are opportunities to grow and advance, they may mean you are closer to doing exactly what God has called you to do. Paul wrote in Acts 20:23, "I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me."
In Acts 27-28, you find the story of Paul, a prisoner going on a little "sailing excursion" to Rome. This little sailboat ride turns into quite an ordeal as the ship is driven by strong winds and was "exceedingly tempest-tossed." They were tossed around at sea for many days with the wind beating on them, until all hope of being saved was given up. Paul gets a visit from an "angel of God," who tells him to not be afraid for he must be brought before Caesar and he and all those who were with him would be safe.
Paul tells the crew this news but also warns them that the angel said they would run aground on a certain island. So after being tossed at sea for a couple more weeks and not eating, Paul encourages them to eat some bread and they throw the rest of their wheat into the sea.
Finally they run aground, and the waves and rocks destroy the ship. The soldiers plan to kill the prisoners, but God intervenes, and Paul and all 276 people aboard are saved. They swim and float to shore on boards and parts of the ship. They wind up on an island called Malta.
If running aground is not bad enough, soon after arriving, Paul is bitten by a snake. The Bible says in Acts 28:3 that it fastened itself to his hand. The snake was on Paul long enough for everyone to see. The people thought Paul was a murderer that God was judging, and they expected him to die. In the end, Paul doesn't die from this, and the Bible says that he "shook off" the snake. Then the islanders said, "He must be a God!" (Don't trust what people say about you!)
Can I tell you that no one planned on going to Malta? No one wanted to go there. Malta was a place of adversity and unplanned trouble. It was said to be a barbaric place because the people there were neither Greek nor Roman and didn't speak their language. Malta is a place where you get bit!
What do you do when you wind up in Malta? Have you been there? How did you handle it? Did you know that God was in Malta? It happened that one of the leading citizens of the island, Publius, had Paul over for dinner and Publius's father happened to be really sick. Paul went to him and laid his hands on him and prayed and he was healed. Imagine that, the same hand that had a poisonous snake hanging on it a couple days earlier was now being used to heal!
The place that you didn't plan on going and probably never wanted to, may be just the place that God wants you to be in! It's where God does his most amazing work! God is in Malta! Someone needs you there in "Malta!"
If the devil bites you, bite him back! Bite him with worship, bite him with prayer and bite him with the Word of God! Bite him by not quitting! Bite him by being faithful and doing what God has called you to do, even in a place that you never intended on being!
God will meet you there in Malta and use you! Often times out of your greatest pain and struggles and adversity will come your greatest blessings! Paul said, "In all of these things, we are more than conquerors!" (Rom. 8:37)