MAKING LEMONADE Andy Hollifield 9-19-18
Acts 27:22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.
There is an old saying that says, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” The origin of that saying is actually an obituary. I know that sounds strange but it was written as a testament to the deceased man’s spirit and attitude in life. Elbert Hubbard wrote it in the obituary for a dwarf actor named Marshall Pinckney Wilder. Hubbard said that Wilder cashed in on his disabilities by approaching life with optimism. That is easier said than done sometimes.
I have had a summer of having to repair one vehicle after another. One would have a problem and sometimes I wouldn’t get that one fixed before another vehicle or something else had problems. Although I try to be optimistic and maintain a positive attitude, sometimes you just get sick of lemonade. I actually started writing this thinking about various figures in the bible that took terrible circumstances in their lives and rather than letting it make them bitter, it made them better.
If there was ever anyone that fit that description, it had to be Paul. “…Present your bodies a living sacrifice…” was more than just a good recommendation for living a Christian life, for him it was a way of life. The scripture above in Acts is just the highlight of a terrible situation that he was put into because of someone else’s stupidity. In verse 21 of Acts 27, “After long abstinence…” Paul gave the centurion and the owner of the ship a polite “I told you so.” If you read backwards in this story, starting with the outcome and working your way back, you can see how God was working. But, just like our problems, life don’t work that way. We have to deal with it as it comes without knowing how things will turn out. The big benefit we have as Christians is that God is working everything in our life to our good. It may not look like it at the time but Romans 8:28, as well as other scriptures, says he is. That scripture says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” That is all things both good and bad. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 it says “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Think how frustrating things must have been for Paul on this trip. Things are pretty bad when you have been arrested and your guards can’t even get you to jail or to be executed without creating problems for you. It’s even worse when they have forsaken good counsel and put your life in jeopardy. Going back to Acts 21, Paul is advised not to go to Jerusalem anymore because he was a wanted man. Of course he had to be obedient to the leadership of the Holy Ghost. When he got to Jerusalem he was beaten, arrested, and chained. Not much of a way for a Christian to be treated is it? In chapter 22 he gives his testimony and in 23 is beaten again. Then he is sent to Felix with an escort of 200 soldiers, 200 spearmen, 70 horsemen in the middle of the night. Sounds like overkill for a man who is really only guilty of is preaching. In 24 there are people speaking to the governor against Paul before any kind of a trial ever starts. He gives his testimony again and makes his defence again and then is jailed again awaiting his trip to Rome to go before Caesar. Both 24 and 25 begin with people speaking against Paul. They are making accusations that could cost him his life and we hold a forty-year grudge when somebody just hurts our feelings. In 26 he gives his testimony and defence to king Agrippa and almost persuades him to be a Christian. He just can’t catch a break and even speaking one on one, he’s unable to convince this one man to be born again. And just when it looked like it couldn’t get any worse, it does.
In chapter 27, Paul finds himself on a ship that is sailing in a season that it shouldn’t have been and no one will take his advice about not sailing. Murphy’s law says, “Anything that can go wrong will,” well it did. They sailed, got caught in a major storm. The ship got damaged and they had to stop to do repairs. They set sail again and couldn’t control the ship. They had to lighten it even to the point of throwing out the tackling of the ship on the third day of the storm. After that, the storm was so bad that they didn’t even see the sun or stars for many days. The tempest raged against them and they lost all hope. Then Paul announced that they were all going to be safe but the ship would be lost. They even had to cut the lifeboats off to lighten it and they were even fasting for fourteen days. At Paul’s urging, after his big announcement, they all ate a meal and regained their cheer. You would think at this point that God was about to calm their storm. You would be wrong. The ship gets grounded and can’t move and is broken in pieces and they have to get to shore the best way they can.
Things finally begin to look up for them. The natives on the island they get cast on are hospitable to them and feed them and build a fire. Just when things have finally improved in chapter 28, Paul gets bitten by a deadly snake. While those around are waiting for Paul to fall up dead, he never does. This convinces them that he is a divine being because he should have been dead. As a result, not only are the inhabitants preached to and get saved, but also the men of the ship. Paul finally gets to Rome and is found guilty and is allowed to rent a house to continue his ministry.
Paul got handed lemons every time he turned around. What was the lemonade; the 276 people on the ship plus the inhabitants of the island. Now that, is a lot of lemonade. And some of us complain if we have to work on a car. Those days were just more opportunities to let the guys at the parts house see Jesus in my life. Most people in a parts store are usually in a rotten mood because they are working on something that is costing them and tying up their time. I doubt they get many folks in there witnessing to them.
Do you see the point yet? We may not know what God is doing but we can rest assured he is doing something. He is operating in our best interest so all we have to do is wait for him to accomplish his purpose. He is going to give us grace to get through whatever our problem is. God can take the most bitter of circumstances and make it end up being a thing of sweetness and contentment like we could never imagine. So, “When life hands us lemons, we should make lemonade.” Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!