Several years ago, I was thinking on the ship that carried the apostle Paul as a prisoner to go to Italy (from Acts 27). (Forgive the formatting, I do not know why it’s so narrow, and hope to fix it soon)
Paul was a prisoner, but this was God’s plan — and in His hands.
I thought about the ship as an analogy to our lives and our walk with the Lord: Sometimes the wind was helpful to the trip, sometimes it was contrary. At times they were forced to change their direction because of strong headwinds.
Other times they didn’t have enough wind to carry them where they needed to go (the winds not permitting us to proceed), so they had to stay still for a while. Be still and know that He is God. (No, I’m not talking about the mystical way some misuse this passage. This is about trusting in the Lord, not struggling in our circumstances but having peace in spite of them because of who He is.)
Some of the time the wind drove the ship too hard, to places they hadn’t planned on going (circumstances). During these storms they were forced to lighten their loads. (I wonder, do we do that when we should, or wait until the very end when we are already sinking?)
They were also warned in advance (Acts 27:10) not to take the path they were headed on, yet they chose to put their faith in men instead of God, and went on ahead. (Sound familiar?) And at first, when the wind was blowing softly, I am sure they thought they had made the right decision and were quite pleased.
A storm of typhoon strength (a tempestuous head wind) blew them out to sea, far from the safety of land. They couldn’t steer, they finally had to give up, and let the storm control the ship.
They tried so hard to strengthen and hold that ship together by their own might, lashing cables around the under-girding of the boat. The ship continued to be battered, so then they started trying to lighten their load — throwing off possessions, food, equipment, everything… (I don’t know about all of you, but I’ve lived through this type of situation).
The storm raged on for days, blotting out even the sun and the stars and all hope that they would be saved. (I know that feeling, that hopelessness — how many of you do too?) They were battered, weary, starved, beaten…and they had given up, hope seemed elusive, times were dark.
Weak from this ordeal, starving, and without hope…they were reminded that they should have listened to Paul’s words from God; that if they had, they could have avoided all of the loss and injuries. (Enduring chastening assures me that He is dealing with me as one of His children and is a reminder He loves me. He does this for our own good. And when we are weary or afraid, sometimes we don’t remember that. But thank the Lord we can trust His Word!)
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but HE for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Heb 12:7-11
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Rev 3:19
After the rebuke, Paul instantly encouraged them. Words that have warmed my own heart, so TAKE HEART!
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
He ASSURED them there would be no loss of life.
CHRISTIAN: STOP NOW, AND THANK GOD FOR SAVING YOU!!
If you are not a believer, stop now and please read this: CLICK HERE
Paul told them that God had sent an angel to let them know that He had granted the lives of all who were with Paul, although the vessel would not make it. (Do you catch another analogy here? We’re going to eventually leave this vessel behind.) Please keep in mind I am in no way suggesting we understand this passage to be more than the literal meaning. This is a physical granting of their lives, and no way speaking to eternal life. We do need to let Scripture be the authority for what it means. It’s just that it sparked some thoughts of parallels in my own life which I thought I might share.
Paul also told them they would run aground a certain island. (Twice Paul tells them to TAKE HEART and assured them He believed what God said. So do I! TAKE HEART!)
The storm continues even after Paul’s encouragement, the ship driven up and down the coast by the wind and the waves. They sensed they were drawing near to the land and dropped some anchors. (Makes me think on the anchor of our soul, such strong consolation, sure and steadfast).
- Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast. Heb 6:17-19b
“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”(Mark 1:24)
At the very end of the journey, still some didn’t believe their safety was in where God told them to stay — the ship, and yet they tried to escape. Paul told them again, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” (v.31) (Funny, this time they decided to listen to the messenger – so there’s hope for us!) To clarify, this is a physical deliverance being spoken of. This is a good example of asking ‘saved from what’?
Sometimes after a long storm, or maybe more than a few warnings, we turn and seek God. We again start listening to and believing His Word, taking nourishment from it, in constant prayer and giving of thanks, we get some wisdom by His grace.
Then they cut their very last safety net (the lifeboat) and trusted wholly in the God Paul served. (I thought on these two verses as it relates to our salvation/deliverance from difficulties in our lives, and the bondage that Christ frees us from that many have gone back into because of false teachers (Gal 2:4). Believers, continue in His Word, and you will become disciples indeed. And you will know the truth and the truth will set you FREE (Jn 8:31-32). Let’s cut our ropes and let our lifeboats fall away, and trust in what our God tells us to do! Believe upon Him!
Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, “Unless these men remain in the ship, you yourselves cannot be saved.” So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall away. Acts 27:31-32
They stayed in the safety of that vessel, ate their last meal, giving thanks to God, and were encouraged again. After they ate, they threw the wheat overboard, another step in trusting God for provision and for the safety of their lives. (I wonder how many of us would be giving thanks vs. wishing the sky would fall on us, or that we might die, or fret over everything vs. thanking Him for His provision. I am including myself).
The next day, they headed for shore, cut off their anchors, and they lowered their rudders (yet another act of faith). Although they ran aground, the ship was stuck, (and not all could swim), God was still faithful! Providing everything that was needed for all to get to safety; wood planks and much debris to float on for those who could not swim. The destruction of the vessel is what got them to their final destination safely… (now that wasn’t the end of the story). There was some good, some bad, some dangerous moments….snakes-yikes! (fulfilling prophecy-Mark 16:17-18). But the Lord was with Paul in all His circumstances, speaking to him, directing him and saving even those who were with him. The destruction of the vessel we are in will be the last thing that happens when we are saved from these bodies (vessel).
It makes me think, I should remain where He would have me to be, (hopefully listening, taking heed, being a doer) — remaining in His Word and abiding in Him. We need to follow Mary’s example and sit at His feet, hearing His Word, spending time with Him (Lk 10:38-42).
He is with us no matter where we go, there He is — leading us, holding us, providing all we need to be saved (from consequences in this lifetime). Stay close to the Lord and place your faith in Him! Cut loose of what you think is your lifeboat. Don’t put your trust in men, don’t think of men beyond what is written (1 Cor 4:6) and remember that God is our provider and our Savior. He is always good, using even the storms of our lives for our good, down to even the pieces of the broken vessel that were used to bring others to safety.
The broken pieces of our life, the trials the Lord brings us through, could actually be the example of hope and trust that others may cling to as they are trying to get to safety.
Don’t lose heart!
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD! Psalm 27:13-14
May we always try to remember, to praise Him in the storm.
Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” Mark 4:39-41