Shipwrecks, Snakes, and Mistaken Identities

Kyle Lum


"As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, bit him on the hand.

The people of the island saw it hanging from his hand and said to each other, “A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live.”

But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed. The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead.

But when they had waited a long time and saw that he wasn’t harmed, they changed their minds and decided he was a god." (Acts of the Apostles 28:3-6 NLT)


Paul was having "one of those days." The kind where you think, "what's next?"

First, he was cautious about sailing in uncertain seas; something that the captain of the guards rejected Paul's thought and instead took the boat captain and owner's recommendation to keep sailing...

...and they paid for it, as the nor'easter battered their ship...costing cargo, equipment, and eventually the entire ship, wrecked on the shores of Malta. But every person aboard survived!

On the island, as they made survival preparations, a poisonous snake clamped down on Paul's hand in front of everyone! And the commentary began! "He's paying for it now!" "It all caught up with him, God is punishing him!" What was Paul to do now?! Panic attack? Throw a tantrum? Blame everyone around him for being such spoil sports?

Nah. He simply walked to the fire and shook the snake off into it. No more snake.

They watched and waited for him to die. And watched. And waited.

Nothing. Paul was just back to doing his thing. And the people's opinion changed, he wasn't a doomed sinner, he's a god! (Facepalm) 😕

The conclusion of this island "stopover"? Paul was able to pray for the island leader's father, healing him, and the whole island came for healing, the word of hope in Jesus, and fruitful labor that transformed an island!


Paul showed me three things;

First, no one on God's green earth will be immune from having "one of those days"! I had one not long ago! Each subsequent crisis made the previous one look easy. And those around me watched my response to each crisis wondering if I will fall apart and die...

Second, people will say what they want and draw conclusions about us without getting the story straight...for me the first instinct is to thoroughly explain in intricate detail (usually too much detail) to justify myself...because I am innocent! Paul just shook it off and kept going. I need to learn that the truth does prevail and sometimes it's best to shake it off and let God reveal it!

Third, when all turns out well we can be misidentified! Maybe not as a god, but as though we ourselves were some kind of superhero or something, as though our power or our goodness or our ______ (fill in the blank) had to do with it! If there's anything we should be flaunting, it's our meager faith in an all powerful God!

Paul fixed that by serving. He prayed for many on the island and they were healed! I serve by taking on dirty and humbling tasks...not to whip myself with self-pity, but to keep myself from pride and thinking it ever was me...I must decrease so that HE does increase!

Those days will come...I must prepare wisely.


Lord Jesus, as we go through our storms and wrecks in our lives, help me to be like Paul; to trust You fully, to share about You passionately, to shake off the snakes that clamp on and try to kill what You do in my life, and to always redirect all praise to You alone. Without You, stormy, shipwrecked, snake filled days are certain doom! But with You I can do all things! Amen.

Devotions for February 21

Numbers 8,9
Acts 28

Start Doing Devotions

Devotions are an important part of everyday life. Click here to learn how to do devotions.