Romans 8:28 (TPT)
So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.
Have you ever made a decision in your life that you immediately realized was a bad one? Mistakes don’t have to be life altering, earth shattering events that forever alter the course of your life. They can be something that brings about a minor inconvenience that you quickly rebound from. However, the level of the consequences associated with a mistake do nothing to change the fact that there was a mistake made. Fortunately, God is more than capable of taking those mistakes and turning them into something glorious.
That’s right! God can take your mistakes and produce a miracle. As humans, we tend to look at some of the mistakes in our lives and view them as catastrophic. It’s entirely possible that bad decisions and mistakes that you’ve made have changed the direction of your life. However, God knew about those mistakes long before you made them. In fact, when He was creating His divine purpose for your life, He accounted for the fact that there would be times where you got it wrong. Isn’t that encouraging? The Bible shares several stories about God’s ability to use humanity’s shortcomings to accomplish His purpose, one of which is found in the book of Acts.
In the 27th chapter of Acts, we find Paul imprisoned for preaching the gospel. But true to the promise that God made through Paul in Romans 8:28, God continually found a way to use these dark periods of Paul’s life to fulfill His purpose for him. In fact, God was so involved in the daily aspects of Paul’s life that He made sure that Paul wound up under the charge of a Roman guard named Julius who allowed Paul to spend time with his friends who encouraged him to be strong in his faith (Acts 27:3). Once the boat that Paul was on which was carrying several prisoners to Rome set sail, the ideal time for sailing had passed. Instead of leaving when they should have, the sailors had waited until after the Jewish fast (Acts 27:9) was over and storm season had approached.
Acts 27:10 (TPT)
“Men, I can see that our voyage would be disastrous for us and being great loss, not only to your ship and cargo but also to our own lives. We should remain here.”
These words of Paul fell on deaf ears. The very next verse tells us that the officer who was in charge of taking all of these prisoners to Rome decided to ignore Paul and listen to the ship’s captain (Acts 27:11). At first, it seemed like everything was going as planned. The Bible says that when they pushed out to sea, a gentle south wind began to blow and they assumed that they would make it where they were going (Acts 27:12), but that’s when they made their mistake.
Acts 27:14-15 (TPT)
But it wasn’t long before the weather abruptly worsened and a storm of hurricane force called a Nor’easter tore across the island and blew us out to sea. The sailors weren’t able to turn the ship into the wind, so they gave up and let it be driven by the gale winds.
Isn’t that how mistakes generally happen? It seems like everything is going pretty well and then one bad decision leads to a feeling of being blindsided by an abrupt storm of hurricane force. It’s easy to let those mistakes take control of our lives much like the sailors did. Once they realized they had made the wrong decision, it was too late. That’s when they “gave up” and let the ship be driven by the winds. Mistakes can take control of us if we allow them to. Thankfully, we have another option. Instead of being driven by the ramifications of our mistakes, we can be led by our Redeemer.
Acts 27:20 (TPT)
After many days of seeing neither the sun nor the stars, and with the violent storm continuing to rage against us, all hope of ever getting through it alive was abandoned.
Hopeless. That’s the only way to describe the mood on the ship by this point. We don’t know exactly how long they sailed into the storm, but it had been “many days” since they had even seen the sun or the stars. Mistakes can leave us feeling hopeless as well. It’s easy to become so focused on what we did wrong that we lose sight of the One who can make it all right.
It’s at this point that Paul emerges from somewhere in the ship where he had been praying. It was there that an angel of the Lord stood beside Paul and reminded him of God’s promise that Paul would go to Rome to share his faith (Acts 23:11). This ship was going to make it to Rome because God told Paul that he was going there! Since every detail of our life is woven together to accomplish God’s purpose for us, that meant that God was going to use this shipwreck to do something incredible through Paul before Paul got to Rome.
The end of Acts 27 paints a harrowing story of a ship that begins to fall apart in the middle of the sea. No, they hadn’t made it to Rome yet, but there was an island where they decided to run the ship aground. When the ship began to break apart, some of the prisoners and soldiers swam to shore while the others grabbed onto broken pieces of wood and floated onto the beach. Just like Paul had told them, every man made it to shore uninjured.
As Acts 28 opens, we learn that Paul and his fellow prisoners had washed up on an island called Malta. The people of Malta were actually under Roman rule. Because of that fact, they welcomed the men who washed onto shore because they were being led by Roman soldiers. Do you see how God was protecting Paul even in the middle of a storm and a shipwreck? The mistake didn’t derail God’s purpose for Paul’s life. In fact, what happens next proves the fact that God can use a mistake to produce a miracle.
Acts 28:7-9 (TPT)
The Roman governor of the island, named Publius, had his estate nearby. He graciously welcomed us as his houseguests and showed us hospitality for the three days that we stayed with him. His father lay sick in bed, suffering from fits of high fever and dysentery. So Paul went into his room, and after praying, placed his hands on him. He was instantly healed. When the people of the island heard about this miracle, they brought all the sick to Paul, and they were also healed.
Paul only wound up on the island of Malta because of a mistake. If the Roman officer who was in charge of the ship had listened to Paul, they never would have sailed into the storm. If they had never sailed into the storm, they never would have washed up onto Malta. If they had never washed up onto the shore of Malta, Paul never would have laid hands on Publius’ father-in-law and all the other sick people on the island and they never would have been healed. One mistake produced multiple miracles!
If God can use the mistake of a Roman officer who didn’t even believe Paul’s words, don’t you think He can use our mistakes as well? Satan would have us to believe that our mistakes completely disqualify us from God’s plan for us, but that’s not the case. God is able to use the most regrettable moments of our lives to produce miracles for us and for others around us. Why? Because we are “His lovers who have been called to fulfill His divine purpose.”
A Closing Prayer
God, you know how many mistakes I’ve made along the way. While I’m certainly not proud of those missteps, I know that you can use them. I’m asking You to take my mistakes and produce miracles. Help me to minister to others who have made some of the same mistakes I’ve made in order to show them Your grace and mercy. In Christ’s name, Amen!