The story of Paul’s voyage to Rome, part of which we heard in Acts 27:27-44, with its trials and triumphs, is an example of the way of faith all through the story of human life. Its remarkable feature is the hard and narrow places which we find intermingled with God’s most extraordinary plans and providences. It’s full of examples of night and day experiences.
The word “night” is symbolic of the times when all seems dark and foreboding for us. Like the people of the ship, we pray, but that prayer is also our time to let down our anchors. What are our anchors? What keeps the ship of our lives off the rocks of life? Do we believe the words of the old hymn, “Will Your Anchor Hold?” Some of these anchors should be faith, surrender to God, hope and thanksgiving.
Because God promised that everyone would be saved, the sailors who were trying to save themselves were fleeing from the promise of their own protection. Paul recognized what they were doing, and the sailors’ plan was thwarted-for their own benefit. A belief that God has purpose (that He designs and has always designed to save some) will prompt the use of all proper means to secure it. Paul believed that God offers mercy. Paul believed that God would save the passengers and crew because Paul was part of God’s plan.
Men can be cruel even when experiencing God’s mercy. God’s goodness will not ease the natural anger and cruelty of those who delight in blood. Roman policy was that if a prisoner escaped, the man who guarded him would be killed. So rather than run the risk of any of the prisoners (Paul and others) escaping, the soldiers wanted to kill them before abandoning ship. But Julius, the centurion, ordered the soldiers not to touch the prisoners. Paul escaped yet another attempt on his life.
For Paul’s sake, the lives of all the prisoners were spared. A pious, God-fearing person can earn the favour of man. God often confers blessings on the wicked for the sake of their believing friends, relatives and neighbours. God can defend people in all dangers and can accomplish all His purposes. We are safe in His keeping. He has a plan that can fulfill all His purposes and protect His people from danger. God promised that everyone on board the ship would be saved, and they were saved. When we take God at His word, we will never go wrong.
Paul modeled not only a life of faith but a life of wisdom and gratitude. Life presents us with a splendid succession of opportunities-both good and bad-to put our faith in action. Often the best chances we have to share our faith result from involvement and caring in ordinary ways for the people we long to introduce to God.
Sometimes God will use the strangest of circumstances to do His greatest works. He used the storm, so He can use any event. Even when life’s voyages are stormy, there will be a time when these storms will be minor compared to what God was able to accomplish because of them.
The worst time to “jump ship” is when times are tough. If we make decisions when times are tough, it’s hard to make clear choices. Isn’t that when we often make life changing decisions, only to look back later, and discover we made the wrong one? We should be more like Jesus and Paul-men who did not turn and run in the face of crisis, offense or opportunity. The storms of life are opportunities to grow as people, believers and followers of Jesus. All we have to do is find them.
When we go through difficult times, what happens to us is not nearly as important as what happens in us. The passage from Acts teaches us three ways we shouldn’t respond:
- Don’t drift. The problem with coasting is that we’re heading downhill. Life is not a coast. Life is tough. When life is tough, we must not lose our ambition or our dream.
- Don’t discard. When times are tough, we tend to abandon values and relationships we would not let go of in better times. God can change situations and personalities. He can change us, but He won’t change us if we’re always abandoning ship!
- Don’t despair. Even in a storm, God is in control. He hasn’t left us. You may not feel Him, but if we feel far from Him, it’s because we have moved. God is with us in the storm, and He will help us through it. He uses the storms of life to test us to see if we will trust Him. Will we pass the test?
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013, p. 1533)
- Ogilvie, L.J. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 28: Acts (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1983; pp. 341-347)
- Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
- Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010)
- L.B. Cowman, “Streams in the Desert-August 22, 2016” Retrieved from Christianity.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Pastor David McGee, “Rough Waters.” Retrieved from www.crossthebridge.com
- Pastor Rick Warren, “How Difficulty Can Make You Better, Not Bitter.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Dr. Harold Sala, “Anchors.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org.