The shipwreck of frustration.
There's an informative shipwreck story in Luke's second volume, the Acts of the Apostles. The spiritual truths of God saving 276 souls are profound. Acts 27 has inspired several sermon series about surviving a personal shipwreck. Most of us know the threat of a shipwreck even though we're rarely on the water. There are shipwrecks, and then there are shipwrecks!
The Acts 27 verses record the Apostle Paul's journey to Rome with a shipload of other prisoners, Roman soldiers, and officials. Since my seaworthiness is little more than knowing how to swim and wear a life-jacket the lessons Acts 27 are for me more about the weather systems that assaulted their ship, altered their course, and eventually sent the vessel into a reef. The gentle winds that launched the journey were elevated into hurricane force winds, identified @ Acts 27:14 as a northeaster. For the moment, with frustration on the docket today, let me wander a little to consider the winds that can create such havoc in our lives. The Acts 27 episode is, at least for me, a good illustration about the systems that can elevate the gentle breezes of life into the force of a northeaster.
The shipwreck in Acts 27 was the result of two powerful phenomena: external and internal forces.
The external forces, of course, were the severe weather patterns that eventually
wrecked the ship. They were what was happening outside the confines of what
was probably a small vessel. Beyond deciding what course they would plot and
then navigate, they had little control over the winds and rains that complicated
their journey. They had to batten down the hatches and keep the ship sea-worthy
in such conditions.
The internal forces were what was happening inside the boat. In the particular
circumstances of the Acts 27 shipwreck these dynamics were the adjustments
they had to make because of the hurricane, the harsh interactions of the soldiers
to the prisoners on board, decisions made by those in command, and obedience
of the crew to them. Since the Apostle Paul had received an angelic visitation
about the ships future, they had to decide whether or not they would follow their
prescribed nautical training, or listen to God's counsel. They had not eaten or
rested for fourteen days. Apparently there was as much inner turmoil as outer.
These same forces usually apply when the gentle winds of daily life upgrade to hurricane status. We have little command of the external elements of life. Yes, we can determine to some degree what we are seeking to achieve and what we think is needed to get us there. Life today, however, is fast and complex. Many other factors---people, circumstances, and dozens of other externals---challenge our progress. Reality therapy reminds us that we cannot govern all of the perplexing components that make life happen today. Those gentle winds can be whipped into turmoil in an instant.
In the same way, most of us are ill prepared internally to weather life's unpredictable elements. If the research is anywhere near correct most of us are physically tired, worn, weary, emotionally on edge, and spiritually empty. Adjusting to ever-changing routines and rigors sap us of energy. Decision fatigue, hyped tiredness, food sensitivities, burnout, chronic illness, and dozens of recently diagnosed syndromes slice through our resolve and determination to elevate life's gentle winds into more powerful gusts. That moment of frustration in the car morphs into road rage. When the many externals and internals converge they can produce the shipwreck of frustration. And, it can be ugly.
Jesus taught his disciples and the multitudes about inner peace.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let
not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:27, NIV
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have
tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
John 16:33, ESV
The Apostle Paul included counsel and prayers for peace in his Epistles---
For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh
the dividing wall of hostility.
Ephesians 2:14, ESV
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and
your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7, ESV
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be
with you all.
2 Thessalonians 3:16, ESV
That's what I'm praying for right now, real peace rather than the world's shallow version, peace that will guard my heart and mind, and peace that will be with me at all times. That kind of peace will keep those gentle winds blowing, and navigate me away from the shipwreck of frustration.
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