Image for Courage in the Storm (Part 2)

Courage in the Storm (Part 2)

Photo of Rick AtchleyRick Atchley | Bio

Rick Atchley

Rick Atchley has been the Senior Teaching Minister at The Hills Church of Christ since 1989. He leads a congregation that has expanded to three campuses in the Greater Fort Worth Texas area, and ministers to 5,000 people each weekend. Rick was not always a believer. Growing up he was taught to fear God, but not to love Him. Even worse, he was not sure God really loved him either. While attending Abilene Christian University, he began to believe in God through hearing the gospel of God’s grace preached. Rick is the author of several books, including Together Again, with coauthor Bob Russell. Rick is married to his wife, Jamie and has three grown children – Michael, Morgan and Matthew.

For part 1, click here.

Let’s review: By the end of Acts, Paul has spent two years in prison for something he didn’t do. Since he wanted to go to Rome, he appealed to Caesar. But, on his way as a prisoner to Rome, the ship wrecked near the island of Malta. After making it safely to the shore of Malta with the others, Paul gathered firewood only to have a viper bite him on the hand.

Yet Paul’s trust in God and courage through his circumstances stayed solid. How did Paul face his storm with such amazing courage? First, he was able to have the courage he needed because he was able to find his identity in what God said about him and not what other people said about him.

Here’s the second way to have courage in the storm: You can determine to be who you’re supposed to be even when you’re not where you want to be.

You’ve got big dreams for your life. Places you want to go, things you want to become. Just like Paul wanted to get to Rome.

But you know what? You might get stuck on Malta. Malta was the place you didn’t plan on going. It’s the experience you didn’t want to go through.

And you may not be responsible for where you are, but you are responsible for what you do there.

So listen to what happens. In Malta, the chief official welcomed them to his home. He showed them generous hospitality for three days. It just so happened that the chief official’s father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. So Paul went in to see him, and after prayer, Paul placed his hands on him and healed him. Afterward, the rest of the sick on the island came, and they were cured.

Paul hadn’t wanted to be there, but it was where life took him. So what did he do? He said to himself, Well, since I am here, I’m going to look around and see whom I can bless in Jesus’ name.

That’s how life works. You’ve got some detours coming that weren’t on your itinerary. You’ve got some storms coming you didn’t see. But divine detours always lead to ministry opportunities. Just because you didn’t plan on it doesn’t mean it can’t fit into the plan of God.

I don’t know where you want to end up. God has probably given you big dreams and big goals. That’s awesome. But let me tell you,

Getting where you want to go isn’t as important as who you’re supposed to be, wherever you are.

I was recently in the western part of the United States speaking at an event. I was at the airport getting ready to fly home to Dallas/Fort Worth when my flight got canceled. And that was frustrating because there was an event that night with my family I wanted to go to with them. They finally booked me on a flight that was going to be very late, and they put me in a seat I hadn’t reserved and didn’t want to sit in. I was kind of frustrated.

So I got in my seat, and I was wearing a suit and tie because that’s the attire I needed for the event I spoke at. I got my book out when a lady came and sat beside me. She looked at me and said, “Excuse me, are you a lawyer?” And I thought, I don’t even know you. Why are you insulting me? I said, “No, I’m a pastor.”

Immediately she began to weep. Through her tears, she told me that three weeks earlier, her 16-year-old daughter had been killed in a four-wheeler accident. Their family weren’t believers in Jesus, and they didn’t have resources to cope. Her husband just shut down, grabbed his gun, and said he’s going hunting. That’s why he was off in the western part of the country. So after a week, she had flown up there to try to be with him and connect, and it had been a disaster. So she was flying home, her daughter had just died, her marriage was falling apart.

And I realized I was supposed to sit in that seat.

So I had a couple of hours to share some hope with her, share some scripture with her, pray with her. Most of all, I was able to give her the name of a Christian counselor I knew in the city she lived in who I knew could help her.

Getting where you want to go isn’t as important as who you’re supposed to be, wherever you are.

Here’s the thing: I don’t think God put me in that seat because I’m a pastor. He put me there because I was the closest follower of Jesus. Next time it’s going to be you. What I think God does is God looks down at the world at all His broken, lost kids. And He says, where’s one of my closest saved kids? And how can I detour their life to intersect and get them to connect with the one I want to reach?

Those wrecks can lead to revivals. That’s why, like Paul, you make the decision to keep getting back on the boat. Because what you go through is never just about you.

Back when Paul had that vision and then spoke to those sailors, he said, “Last night an angel . . . said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. . . . God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage” (Acts 27:23-25). You see, it was never just about Paul. The storms and shipwrecks and Malta’s become the pulpits for people who follow Jesus with courage. For God is never going to take you where he cannot use you.