“Men,” he said, “I believe there is trouble ahead if we go on – shipwreck, loss of cargo, and danger to our lives as well.” But the officer in charge of the prisoners listened more to the ship’s captain and the owner than to Paul. – Acts 27:10-11
Been there, done that. How often do we ignore the advice of others or the prompting of the Holy Spirit because we feel we have a handle on the situation? We know what is best and believe we can handle anything that might come our way. There have even been times in my life when someone pulled me aside and warned me there could be trouble ahead if I continue with my plans. In that moment, I had a choice – listen or do things my way. The officer had the same choice.
When a light wind began blowing from the south, the sailors thought they could make it. So they pulled up anchor and sailed close to the shore of Crete. But the weather changed abruptly, and a wind of typhoon strength (called a “northeaster”) burst across the island and blew us out to sea. The sailors couldn’t turn the ship into the wind, so they gave up and let it run before the gale. – Acts 27:13-15
There are times in our lives when what first appears as a light wind becomes of wind of typhoon strength and before we know it, we have lost control of our direction. No matter how hard we try to turn things around and go in the other direction, we fail and find ourselves giving up.
We sailed along the sheltered side of a small island named Cauda, where with great difficulty we hoisted aboard the lifeboat being towed behind us. Then the sailors bound ropes around the hull of the ship to strengthen it. They were afraid of being driven across to the sandbars of Syrtis off the African coast, so they lowered the sea anchor to slow the ship and were driven before the wind.
The next day, as gale-force winds continued to batter the ship, the crew began throwing the cargo overboard. The following day they even took some of the ship’s gear and threw it overboard. The terrible storm raged for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone. – Acts 27:16-20
In the midst of the storm, have you ever tried to keep it together on your own, like the sailors who used ropes to try to keep the ship from falling apart? Have you ever lowered anchor in order to control the situation? Things continue to get worse until there is no more light – no more hope.
No one had eaten for a long time. Finally, Paul called the crew together and said, “Men, you should have listened to me in the first place and not left Crete. You would have avoided all this damage and loss. But take courage! None of you will lose your lives, even though the ship will go down. For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me, and he said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar! What’s more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you.’ So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said. But we will be shipwrecked on an island.” – Acts 27:21-26
Oh, we could all use an occasional “I told you so” but I much prefer the rest of Paul’s message – Take courage! You’ve made a mess of things and there will be consequences, but I am right here standing beside you and will keep you safe in the midst of the coming shipwreck. Like Paul, I choose to believe God – that it will be just as He said!
Thank you, God, for taking the messes we have made in our life and keeping us safe in the storms. We give up control of the situation and place this ship in your arms. Thank you for your promise to stay with us and take care of us, even in the midst of the consequences and mess we have made. You are so good to us and we love you! Amen.