What to do when things fall apart
What does it take to survive life’s worst situations?
[An Inner Circle exclusive]
When our lives spiral out of control, one knee-jerk response is to freeze, because we feel helpless. When you’ve tried everything, but nothing seems to work, what else can you do?
We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved. — Acts 27:18-20
What captured me was the level of drama in this story. Something told me that this story mattered for us and that there was something we could learn from it, so I spent weeks trying to confirm it. It was a simple principle that has the potential for incredible results, even when it feels like we’ve run out of options.
But before we get into it, let me set the context…
Acts 27: The Shipwreck
At the end of the book of Acts, Luke tells the story of how he and a group of nearly 300 prisoners and guards set sail from Jerusalem through Cyprus, Crete and towards Rome. In the middle of their journey, they got caught up in a hurricane.
They had done their best to weather the storm — like many of us do — but the situation was bigger than them. After all, who can control the weather? Intelligence and good technique could only get them so far, and it was time to surrender. This was a ship full of people from many religious backgrounds, or no faith at all, and Paul was one of those prisoners on the ship.
Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven’t eaten anything. Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” — Acts 27:33-34 [my emphasis added]
You can almost sense the tension on the ship. Bodies frozen by fear and weakened by a lack of food, food that they had saved to prevent them from starving. But if they had given up all hope of being saved, why were they hanging onto the food? Because they were human, and sometimes we keep things around for comfort, even though they are no longer of use. But comfort can deceptive because it doesn’t necessarily heal or protect, it just keeps us stagnant.
When it looks like everything is falling apart, it is only human to cling to what we ‘know’. Scarcity mindset sweeps in, telling us that we must hold tightly to the little we have left because if we let it go, we will miss out. Not only will be miss out, but we may never be able to get it back again. The irony is that by holding onto the one thing we believe can save us, we push ourselves further away from the breakthrough that we need.
So how do we shift from scarcity to breakthrough?
The clue is in what Paul did next…