By Pastor Josh Bundy
“Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.” Acts 27:26
Autumn is reintroducing itself to Eastern Pennsylvania. Maybe you’ve already put away summer clothes and brought out flannels and sweaters. I for one go for the flannels at earliest opportunity. Because the fall is my favorite time of year, I welcome the change. Because the changing of seasons is predictable, we usually enjoy it. Harder though are the changes that leave us without a clear sense of what comes next. Hard changes can leave us unsettled, unsatisfied, or unfulfilled until God grants fresh insight to move us forward.
Acts chapter 27 is not often quoted on coffee cups or Christian inspirational artwork. Paul is under Roman arrest and journeying to Rome to be tried by Caesar. It’s late in the sailing season; the winds are changing. Against prisoner Paul’s unwelcome advice, the ship sails into a gentle wind that quickly becomes a terrible storm. One wind-whipped day after another the sailors and all passenger’s despair: “We finally gave up all hope of being saved.” (Acts 27:20) Prisoner Paul stands up and gives an “I told you so” speech but claims no one will die because of God’s mercy. However, an unavoidable consequence of sailing that ship on those seas in that season is “Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.” (Acts 27:26)
Consistently in scripture God saves people while not reversing all the consequences of their choices. In this case, salvation comes in one of its usual forms in scripture: life is preserved where it would have been lost. Yet the choice to sail led to many days of storm-battered, empty-bellied, breaker-tossed, sandbar-wrecked, flotsam-clinging, surf-pounding “salvation.” “In this way everyone reached land safely.” Acts 27:44
My guess is that for many of you, the last year at Covenant feels like the Acts 27 version of salvation. My guess, informed by conversations with some but not all, is that your year has been more 44-verses-of-surf-pounding-survival and less cute-scripture-verse-coffee-mug Christianity.
Even in the storms, God’s love for you is constant. His salvation is sure. His provision does not, however, exclude us from riding the ship we’re sailing in.
We have work to do at Covenant. No work earns God’s affection or deliverance, but he calls us to hard work anyway. (Eph. 2:8-10) As we work, he works through us, empowering us and strengthening us to do the work. Often, it is only much later that we realize he was doing the heavy lifting all along.
October is a month of changing winds. In many things we return to what is predictable and enjoyable.
- We have a worship night for everyone on Thursday, Oct. 7th.
- Students have MVMNT weekend Oct. 8-9.
- We launch 5 amazing Care Groups the week of October 10th that anyone can register for.
- We have some fun Adult Min Events:
o Oct. 9th = Men’s Breakfast
o Oct. 25th = “Soup-er Night” for all women
o Oct. 30th = Men’s Day
We also have work to do that is hard, unpredictable, and less fun; it is part of the ship we rode thus far. The elder’s announced last week the parting from Rob Bloss, the ongoing leave of Rob and Lisa Chifokoyo for their care, and a series of town hall meetings in which they will share more information and take questions. Covenant has secured the help of The Center Consulting Group to do extensive work with us for the sake of the health of this church. Members will receive more information directly from the Elder Board about these processes in the coming days. In the meantime, we know that many feel battered and starved.
There is a saying that goes around businesses and leadership organizations: “All organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they get.” This may seem a little cold, but it has some truth. Our choices brought us to where we are; there’s not much use and almost no healing power in looking at others. We all got on the boat. That doesn’t damage God’s sovereignty or provision even a whit. He knows every boat and the name of the wind of change. Every current is under his authority.
So, if God grants your heart to be lightened by the crisp breezes of autumn, thank him. And if your soul feels downcast, put your hope in God, even in the winds of change. Sometimes, we must run aground of some island if we are ever to get out of the storm and experience his salvation.
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 43:5)