Read: Acts 27:1-28:10
So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Acts 27:25
Chapter 27 of Acts reads like a great adventure novel – I couldn’t put it down! Having the benefit of watching Hollywood movies about raging storms at sea really helps us to picture this scene as it plays out verse by verse. And having a ship full of prisoners heightens the drama even more! And a Centurion, played by Russell Crowe, of course.
They were setting sail in the winter which was known to be a perilous time on the sea – Paul voices his concerns – to no avail. They continue on their journey and the storm hits. And hits. And hits. The crew and passengers give up hope of being saved – they knew they were destined for a watery grave. Then Paul is visited by an angel in a dream who assures him that he and all the passengers and crew would not be lost, but would make it to dry land.
The storm continues to rage, the sailors continue to fret, the ship runs aground, everyone makes it to the island of Malta to be met by “unusually kind” islanders who build them a fire, feed them and see to their needs. Oh, and Paul gets bit by a venomous snake. I’d pay to see this movie! I think Paul should be played by Harrison Ford, don’t you?
But what would the take-away be? Besides a riveting story-line, is there something to learn? What strikes me is the way Harrison, I mean Paul, handles the whole situation from beginning to end. First of all, he’s a prisoner. On a sailing vessel with 200 or so other prisoners. On his way to stand trial before Caesar. Dramatic tension everywhere you turn. Second, he knew that they were sailing into danger.
I would be a little stressed. And when I get stressed, I’m not at my best. But not Paul. It’s clear from the text that even as a prisoner he had some sort of authority that was recognized by those around him. He was a voice of calm and reason and spoke encouragement in the midst of dire circumstances. Most of the people on the ship didn’t think they were going to get off that ship alive.
But Paul had heard from the Lord and he believed what God said. He knew what God promised would come to pass. He did not succumb to fear and panic but trusted in God and was thereby able to encourage the crew and passengers to have hope and keep going.
So that makes me think – what kind of person am I in dire circumstances? Am I a “source of preservation for those around me” as one commentary puts it? Or do I succumb to fear? What impact do I have in the face of peril, danger or everyday discouragement? Do I direct those around me to the source of hope? Or do I join the masses in despair?
I wish I could say that I follow Paul’s example, but most of the time, I get side-ways and can’t get my eyes off the storm. But if I’m not a “source of preservation” or a voice of encouragement to those around me, who will be? What hope will they have?
What hope does the world have if the people of God don’t stand apart from the crowd, speaking words of encouragement, pointing to the source of hope, serving, loving, believing. Because the reality is, we are all on this big ship together and there is a storm raging and those who don’t know Christ are without hope of rescue.
So as we cling to the source of hope in our storms, big and small, let’s point others in that direction too and like Paul, be a voice of calm and encouragement bringing glory to Jesus. What storm are you going through? How can you be a source of preservation for those around you in the midst of it?
Dear Lord, thank you that we have nothing to fear even when the storms rage around us. Please help us to keep our eyes on you and let our actions testify to your goodness and salvation. In Jesus’ name, amen.