“Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.” Acts 27:26 (NIV)
Have you ever been going along, intent in your calling, certain of your direction, sure of God’s goodness, only to have something happen that throws you completely off course?
When my husband and I resolved to become financially sound, we were dismayed to quickly have an appliance break, shelling out the entire emergency fund we’d built up to repair it. Instead of moving forward we were going backwards.
We had two choices to make at that moment: thank God that we had the money to cover the repair or doubt God’s sovereignty in allowing the appliance to break.
In the book of Acts, chapter twenty-seven, Paul tells the people he is traveling with that God has called them to their mission. Not only that, he is certain the Holy Spirit is on their side. And yet, for reasons he doesn’t go into, we read in our key verse that he also tells them they must run aground, which means they’d be delayed on some island before their purpose would be accomplished.
This delay, it turns out, is part of the plan. This setback is actually sovereign. But of course at that moment they can’t see that. All they can see is a looming shipwreck, a deserted island.
Perhaps you are on your own deserted island—a personal exile that has been painful and prolonged. You wonder if God sees where you are, if He cares. You remember the time you were moving along, the wind in your sails, full speed ahead. And you miss that time. You wish God would rescue you from the island, put you back on course. Perhaps you’re beginning to doubt God really does have a plan for you.
I don’t know what your deserted island looks like. It might be the desolation of a marriage, the barren land of motherhood, the wasteland of a career. It might be the emptiness of simply not knowing what your purpose—your passion—really is, even as you watch other women seem to steam forward.
When I start to feel this way, I think about this verse. I remember that even Paul ran aground, even Paul faced setbacks. But I also remember that the island wasn’t the end of the story. Rescue was coming. Running aground doesn’t mean you’ve run outside of God’s will. It might just mean you are exactly where you’re supposed to be. Use this time to increase your trust in God and to see Him work on your behalf, even when the palm trees obscure your view.
Dear Lord, I admit I’ve been feeling lost and forgotten on this island. I haven’t realized that this setback might just be what You allowed. Help me to find You, even in this. Help me to press into You and to trust Your goodness and love. I can’t wait to see what waits for me on the other side of this island. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
By Marybeth Whalen