"Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved."
Storms. When storms start building in late evening in May, Oklahomans understand the possibilities: tornadoes or destructive thunderstorms. When the sirens start to blow, that's the warning call that motivates us to take action, run, go to a safe zone, get to the storm shelter. Do not hesitate. Hesitation could be the difference between life or death.
Thankfully, the storms pass, but their destructive paths are evident. Floods and destruction are prevalent. Businesses are destroyed, loss of livestock, pets, devastation of homes and often loss of life. So much pain from so much loss.
Are you ready for those tough times? What will you do when the storm rages?
In Acts 27, the Apostle Paul was a prisoner on a ship being transported to Rome. Other fellow Christians were on the ship as well. But this ship was destined to sink. This historical chapter captures what happens when storms come out of nowhere and disaster strikes. How do the shipmates and captain handle the situation? How does Paul? Both reactions are telling.
The remarkable events begin with Paul stating a bold prediction. Go and we die. A storm called Euroclydon (their version of El Niño) would come up fast and the ship would be in jeopardy. Yet, what captain would listen to the ramblings of a mad man? Especially a prisoner. So, they set sail. The weather was superb in the beginning, yet, as predicted, the storm hits, battering the ship tempest-tossed.
I am sure after many days of being helplessly driven by the raging storm, the crew nodded in agreement as Paul lamented, "Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.' So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me."
Fourteen days later, the crew began to notice that they were in shallow waters and some were ready to jump, fearing the ship would break up.
"Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, 'Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.' Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the skiff and let it fall off. And as day was about to dawn, Paul implored them all to take food, saying, 'Today is the 14th day you have waited and continued without food, and eaten nothing. Therefore I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you.' And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it, he began to eat. Then they were all encouraged and also took food themselves."
The interaction between Paul and shipmates in facing this crisis has shifted. The actions of Paul (a Christian) is now one of encouragement and stability. Paul is calm, sure and focused.
When faced with the storms of life, you can stay the course with God or jump ship when the pressure is overwhelming, unsure of the moment, unsure of your destiny. Your choice. With God or without? In Him, we are anchored and steadfast.
We are all surrounded by a sea of chaos. Are you tempest-tossed? Better yet, are you like Paul, who would calmly state, "So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me."