How do you write a devotional on a story? There isn’t a command to follow or a teaching to obey. There is not a promise to be claimed by faith. It’s a story, just a story, of something God did a long time ago. What does that have to do with us?
Stories are rarely “just stories”. They are a record of how God has acted in the past, and since He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, they serve as a guide as to how we can expect Him to act in the future. They are also capture real life, flesh and blood pictures of what it looks like to live in harmony with God, and to have a relationship with him.
So how has God acted in this story? How did Paul act? What matters to Luke (the story teller) that maybe should matter to us as well?
These are the kind of questions we ask in a passage like this. And then when we’ve answered them, we apply those answers to the present. How can I expect God to act today in the crisis I’m facing? What would it look like for me to trust God like Paul trusts God, in the dark of the night when the situation appears to be worsening (the ships running aground, the crew wants to abandon ship, the prisoners—including Paul—are about to be killed)? What difference would it make in my life if the things that mattered most to Luke mattered the most to me (hint: Luke likes to count, and just like the rest of us, what he counts is what is important to him).
If we take the time to read the story, reflect on some questions, and work through the answers and implications for our lives, we'll find the gifts this passage has to offer.