Enduring a storm on a boat at sea is a good metaphor for enduring a sudden cessation of life as we knew it just a few weeks ago because of a pandemic virus. From Paul’s point of view, smart navigation in a storm offers lessons we can benefit from throughout Acts 27:
“And when it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort named Julius. And embarking in a ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica. The next day we put in at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for” (Ac 27:1-3).
Although Paul is technically under arrest, the Roman soldiers, once again, show great deference to him, a Roman citizen now on his way to an appointment with Caesar. There is no record that anyone is deployed to go with him to make sure he does not escape.
As we learn to grow in perfect unity with God, are we as trustworthy as Paul? Have we earned that kind of respect?
“And putting out to sea from there we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were against us. And when we had sailed across the open sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia. There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy and put us on board. We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea” (Ac 27:4-8).
A major storm is brewing and Paul knows it, because of the time of year:
“Since much time had passed, and the voyage was now dangerous because even the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, ‘Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.’ But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. And because the harbor was not suitable to spend the winter in, the majority decided to put out to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, facing both southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there” (Ac 27:9-12).
So while Paul is trusted enough to visit his friends, he is ignored in giving really important advice. It is too bad that the owners and the sailors do not inquire as to the source of Paul’s “perceiving.”
Paul’s direct connection with the King of the Universe, unknown to his fellow passengers, is over-ruled. But unlike what I would do in this situation – caution them that they are missing something important – Paul seems content to let the situation play out on their judgment, faulty as it is.
Are we content when God speaks to us but others are not willing to listen? In perfect unity with him, are we faithful enough to know that God will speak again with even more impact?
There must be something more that Paul knows.
He will patiently wait until the time is right, while enduring in unity with his fellow passengers the voyage of life in crisis, awaiting the fulfillment of God’s purpose.
Hurry back for Part 2, when things get a bit tougher while God’s purposes become clearer!