Floating on the Debris

Today’s Reading: Acts 27


Have you noticed how quickly the weather can change this time of year? It can be a sunny 80 degrees when we wake up but cold, wet and windy by mid-afternoon. The weather is hard to predict as new systems arrive and temperatures abruptly change.

Paul and those on the ship to Italy experienced what we call “an abrupt change” in the weather. It was not a good time for water travel because it was late fall and a change in weather was to be expected. Paul advised the men that there would be trouble ahead if they sailed – shipwreck, loss of cargo and danger to lives. But the officer in charge of the prisoners listened more to the ship’s captain and the owner than to Paul (Acts 27:11b).

Even though common sense said it was a bad idea, and even though Paul had predicted trouble if they went forward with their plan, the men did not want to spend their winter in Fair Havens. They wanted to make it at least as far as the harbor in Phoenix.

Oh, how often I push forward with my own plans even though I know it is unwise!

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

This passage reminds me of the times in our lives when we see the error of our ways or the foolishness of our decisions. We try to change course or survive our bad decisions, but our efforts make very little difference. It seems like everything is going well, according to our plan, and then some circumstance ABRUPTLY CHANGES and we find ourselves in the middle of a storm.

Scripture says those on the boat were afraid. They tried everything. They threw cargo overboard, they bound ropes around the hull of the ship in order to strengthen it, and they even threw some of the ship’s gear overboard. They lowered the anchor and drug it in hopes of slowing the boat down but they were driven by the wind.

The terrible storm raged on, blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone. – Acts 27:20


When we give up, we often let the circumstances and the decisions of others around us drive our life. We have stopped trying to win the battle and we just let life happen. But that is not God’s desire for us. He wants to be the one driving our life – determining our direction and guiding our decisions.

Thankfully Paul’s story ended well. God granted safety to everyone sailing with him. Paul led them in a time of prayer and the next morning they saw a bay with a beach. They attempted to make it to shore but the boat ran aground in the shallow water. They jumped out of the boat and headed to shore – some swam and some floated to shore on debris from the ship (Acts 27:39-44).


Sometimes we are able to “swim” to the shore God has provided but sometimes God uses the debris from our shipwreck to get us to where He wants us to be. We find ourselves in a situation that was never God’s plan for us, but He rescues us and provides an escape when we turn to Him for help. He uses the scattered fragments of our sin to bring us back into His arms.

Sometimes it is those things that were never meant to happen that God uses to take us from the disaster we have created to the haven of rest He has prepared.

For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love and sound judgment. – 2 Timothy 1:7

Thank you, God, for your goodness and for your grace. I praise you for you are a God who rescues, even when I am the cause of my need to be rescued. You are patient and you are kind. Lord, today I ask that you direct my path. I desire to follow your lead and sail down the path you have for me. I love you, Lord. Amen.