I was reading in Acts this morning and came across yet another passage in scripture which included the paradox of God’s Sovereignty and Human Responsibility. Even though this dynamic doesn’t fit neatly into our little logical grid-neither do the Trinity and love for that matter-we see these two truths affirmed throughout the bible.
When Paul sailed to Rome they hit some rough patches on the sea, and many thought they would die. So Paul affirmed them of God’s Sovereign plan to save them:
“… For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told…..(Acts 27:24-26)
So while they were affirmed of God’s Sovereign plan to save them, Paul still gave them instructions which needed to be followed.
“Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, ‘Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.’ Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it go. As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food. It will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you (vs. 31-34).
While God affirmed them of their ultimate safety, they still had to play by His rules. Since they hadn’t eaten in 14 days, and would be soon swimming to shore after a shipwreck, they would likely not have had the strength to get to shore. I can’t imagine doing any exercise after not eating for 14 hours, much less 14 days.
Yet another mix of Sovereignty and Responsibility that moves us to gratitude and rest as opposed to arrogance and fear, to action and inclusion as opposed to laziness and fatalism.