I’m so amazed at the moment with the journey of Paul in the final chapters of Acts. Paul had just left King Agrippa in chapter 26 and was now on a ship, under guard, to be presented before Caesar.
Regardless of Julius’ kindness (which was a blessing), Paul is a prisoner and I’m convinced he was in exactly the predicament he wanted to be in. Agrippa even said to Festus (Acts 26:32) that Paul would be a free man already had he not appealed to Caesar.
|I got this in an email today. It’s a quote from Francis Drake.
“Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrive safely because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the waters of life, having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity, and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas, where storms will show your mastery, where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizon of our hopes, and to push us into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love. This we ask in the name of our Captain, who is Jesus Christ.”
It was winter and travelling over the sea was hazardous. Paul warned the crew that the journey would be disastrous with loss of ship, cargo and possibly even life. When I first read verse 10 (Acts 27) I thought God had revealed this to him. Maybe He did, but I’m not sure because in the Amplied Version, it states Paul perceived after careful observation. It’s no wonder the centurion didn’t listen to him. You would listen to a ship captain before a tent-maker any day, right?
Violent storms rocked the boat for days. They began throwing things overboard to lighten the load. There was even a period of time when the sun, moon and stars could not be seen leaving them totally disorientated. The crew was loosing all hope of making it alive.
It was then that Paul told them that there would be no loss of life (Acts 27:24). An angel of God had visited Paul and told him he needed to stand before Caesar and that all those with him would be kept safe. I thought it was funny when Festus called Paul ‘mad’ during their conversation with Agrippa (Acts 26:24). What must these guys have thought?
As they approached some land in the darkness, they dropped the anchors and planned to wait until daylight so that any potential rocks could be avoided. That night however, the sailors secretly tried to escape (Acts 27:30) using the ship’s boat. This time Julius listened to Paul’s warning and cut the boat loose. They all had to stay together if they were to survive.
In the morning, a sandy shore could be seen from the ship. They cut the anchors loose and steered the ship towards the shore. Even with land in sight their difficulties were still not over. They hit a cross current and the ship ran aground, the fierce waves began to smash up the stern.
In this scenario the prisoners would normally be killed to prevent any of them using the opportunity to escape, but Julius prevented this from happening in order to save Paul.
They all abandoned the ship and made it safely to land, all 276 of them accounted for.
|What amazes me about this story is Paul’s whole attitude to life. He was so sold out to Christ he was willing to risk his very life in order to reach his goal (Acts 20:24). He knew the journey would be difficult before he even started, yet he still chose to go!
When we’re chasing after a dream, or a goal, we need to keep focused. We need to throw things out that may hold us back. We may even need to make bigger changes when the current vehicle has taken us as far as it can (Acts 27:6).
The journey was a complete nightmare from start to finish and they barely made it with their lives. The main thing is they made it, and it was God that got them there – His way. Had they abandoned God’s plan, they may have never made it to shore.
The day after I started to compile this post we got hit by a few rough waves. The fact this passage was still so fresh on my mind is no coincidence. I also believe the Francis Drake quote I got in an email today was God reaffirming this message to us. We are not letting the waves deter us because we believe we are right where God wants us to be and He is in control. If we keep our eyes on Him, every little thing will work out.