Friday, September 21, 2018

A Sinking Ship

Submitted by Lara Cook
Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss.  Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.  For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘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.  But we must run aground on some island.” Acts 27:21-26 

Faith and trusting in God is hard stuff, especially when you are in a storm and ship is going down.  In the passage above, Paul is a prisoner on a ship headed to Rome to be tried before Caesar.  It was smack dab in the middle of storm season and they were headed directly for a big one.   They were laid over in a harbor because of the weather and were faced with a decision – should they sail on or wait?  Paul advised them that they should not sail on, but stay because it was past the autumn equinox, so it would be stormy from then all the way through winter.  They didn’t care about Paul’s advice.  He was just a prisoner so on the advice of the owner of the boat, they set sail as soon as the winds died down.  They soon found themselves in the midst of days on end of storms battering their ship.  They began to throw out cargo, tackle and provisions.  They had very little hope of surviving, but Paul gave them good news – an angel of God had spoken to him and told him that no one would die.  The ship will be destroyed, but they would all survive.  In order to survive the storms, they would have to shipwreck their boat on an island.  They ended up shipwrecked on a reef, and all made it to shore alive and well.  
A Shipwrecked Life
A lot of shipwrecks can be avoided by making a different choice.  These guys did not want to wait, they wanted to do things their own way, even though they knew it was risky and dangerous.  It appeared for a while that they would not survive the storm they sailed into.  We do this to ourselves in our own lives.  We don’t have patience to wait on God, or we take advice from everyone BUT God.  Waiting when the storm is raging, and ship is sinking is the hardest thing of all.  It’s easy to run our lives into the rocky shore, bringing disaster on ourselves and others around us.  The sailors left the safety of the harbor, in spite of the warnings, intending to stay close to the shore.  But the storm pushed them out from the shore into the raging sea.  They tried to fix the problem on their own, by trying to get rid of some of the baggage and cargo but it didn’t work.  There was nothing else they could do, and they became hopeless.  
The grace of God spares the sailor’s and prisoner’s lives.  Even though they make the wrong decision, they only lose the ship.  Like the sailors, we push ourselves out from God in our sin, far away from safety.  We often try to fix our problems on our own, bargaining with God and trying to make a deal.  There are always consequences for the wrong decisions we make, but there is also the grace of God that saves us from total destruction, if we learn.  If we don’t learn, there is certain to be many more shipwrecks in our lives.  God’s hand protects us in our hard-headed decision making.  When we think we know better and choose our will over His, He lovingly waits for us to return to Him.  When we do, we are safe in His protection and love.

Scripture to Claim:
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.  Psalm 138:7

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