Acts 27-28

The last two chapters in Acts we learn that Paul travels to Rome after a dangerous sailing adventure, and then spends two years ministering out of his private apartment in Rome.   It doesn’t sound much like prison…more like house arrest.  Read Acts 27-28 here
I know why the soldiers didn’t listen to Paul when he warned them not to sail, I would listen to the ship’s captain before the prisoner also.   But that’s the problem, isn’t it?    No one knows more than God, and God shares his wisdom with his people, especially his prophets.  Therefore, the prisoner has the potential to be wiser than the ship’s captain.   Incredible.
This passage reminds me of God’s “permissive” and “perfect” will.   When we are in God’s perfect will, we are doing exactly what He wants us to do at the time He wants us to do, in the way He wants us to do it.   If we vary from that narrow definition at all…say, we do what God wanted us to do, but we do it too early, or we don’t have the right attitude as we do it….that isn’t a sin necessarily, but it isn’t “perfect” either.     We call those times that we operate in that margin between perfection and sin God’s “permissive” will.     I understand God’s permissive will to be the wide pathway through life that God permits us to walk…it isn’t the sidewalk of His perfect will, but it’s not sinful either.    
The ship’s captain could choose to “go for it” even after he was warned that trouble lay ahead.   That’s not a sin.   But it was foolish, and look where not listening to Paul (God, actually) got him.   He lost his boat, the cargo and probably his reputation.   At least he didn’t lose the prisoners…because that would have cost him his life.     I had to smile a little when I read that Paul said to the Captain ” I told you not to sail, but you wouldn’t listen”.    You know, sometimes you can’t get through to people by explaining…they have to make their own mistakes.     And we have to be patient enough with them to love them through it.
God works through all situations and circumstances, perfect will, permissive will and even our open defiance of God”s will.    In this case, the people of Malta (tiny island beyond Sicily…straight off the “toe” of the Italy “boot”) receive a great blessing, Paul heals their sick, perhaps even some who would have died.   Salvation comes to some on the Island, and the people are encouraged and refreshed before Paul and Luke leave.     You could say “God wanted this to happen, because it would help the people of Malta”….but don’t forget that Paul told the Captain not to set sail.     The ministry in Malta was part of God’s permissive will, but not His perfect will.   
For two years in Rome Paul is able to write, preach and fellowship with believers.   That’s roughly about the time he spent in a city planting a church.
I noticed that when He arrived in town he met with the Jews first, to try and explain to them his message, but just like their Jewish relatives in Jerusalem, Macedonia, or wherever he went these Jews were resistant to the message.   I can sense Paul’s frustration as he quotes Isaiah and once again decides to spend his time ministering to the Gentiles.
And guess what?   As Paul ministers from his rented home in Rome (hey that rhymes)… we are right back to God’s perfect will.     We don’t always take the right route getting to where God wants us to be, and in doing so we endure a lot of needless trouble.   But if we remain faithful, we will end up right where God wanted us all along.