Upon finding safety from the sea & its dangers on Malta, Paul is able to really do a lot in terms of ministry, healing, and teaching. At first glance, without knowing all the good work done in Malta, it can look like Malta is just a stop-off, a nowhere along the way to Paul’s destination. But for those lives touched by Paul, it is not.
This is a reminder to me. Sometimes I look back at my life and there are occasions where I wonder “Why did I do that? How did I end up there?” I see places if I had better wisdom I might have avoided going – both physically in terms of places to live or work, but also metaphorically in terms of situations in my life. I wonder “How could I have thought it was a good idea?” We all have such parts of our lives that we can easily berate ourselves for.
There is no turning back time, so even if we find answers, ruminating over what might have been is a dead end for us. However Paul’s experience in Malta is a strong corrective to throwing up our hands in despair for both past and possibly even current experiences where it seems our life went off the wrong direction and hit a dead end.
Sometimes a seeming dead end for us can be a new beginning for others. In Malta, Paul may appear stuck, just at a stop off to recover from the trials of the trip. It seems a dead end in many ways. Yet for each of the lives Paul touches there, it seems as if Paul is sent by God. And who is to say Paul is not?
We can belabor over how we got here – whether the place we are at in our lives now or the places we ended up before – but there is a greater question. Though it does help to look at our lives and see what we may change for the future, beating ourselves up with shame helps no one. And ultimately the larger question is not “how did we get here?” but “what good can be done where we are?” Wherever we find ourselves, by whatever winds of life upon the wavy seas of time, we have the capacity to lift our eyes to the hurting hearts of those around us to become the voice and hands of healing for others.
May we find that today and always.