Today, we continue to look at Paul’s shipwreck in Acts Chapter 27. We will pick up in verse 22 where Paul addresses the crew.
22But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me 24and 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.’ 25So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. 26Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.
An absolutely a critical point in any storm is to remember that God has you. That God will bring you through the storm. You will be changed, but you will make it through. I think it is best said in Genesis 8:24, “The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days. But God remembered Noah and the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and He sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. “
God remembered Noah in the midst of the storm. Of course it took him 150 days for the storm and water to be finished. We must be patient in the waiting for God to bring us completely through the storm. Being unemployed for almost a year and staying hopeful is an act of faith. Just as God remembered Paul in the midst of his storm. The Father sent an Angel to Paul for comfort and peace. If we listen, God will also let us know that He is with us, even in the storms. That He doesn’t forget us, even if it a storm of our own making. He always provides a way to weather the storm. It may not be in any conventional way. For Jonah, he sent a great fish to save him from the sea. For Noah it was to have him build a great big ark. For Paul, it was to guide him through the storm and to reassure him that God had a plan for him.
For my situation, I felt the presence of the Father, as soon as my boss began talking. It was a strange peace that came upon me. He knew the storm was starting and He let me know that He would be with me through it all, as long as I put my faith in Him. God revealed Himself to me in so many ways. I felt like the Father “remembered me” and felt His comfort and peace. As I was leaving the office for the last time, the Bethel song, “One thing remains” was playing on the radio. As I drove down the highway, I was singing, “His love never fails, it never gives up.” It comforted me when the storm was upon me.
27On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land. 28They took soundings and found that the water was a hundred and twenty feet deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was ninety feet deep.
An important step during any storm is to get your bearings. Where are you? Emotionally, physically, mentally. The sailors would get their bearings to make sure they didn’t run a ground. But for us, it is important for us to really understand the landscape. Really understand what the issue is, and where we stand with it. This can be difficult sometimes. Especially if you don’t have all of the information.
In my situation, I didn’t know where I was going to go, what I was going to do or how I would do it. After crying out to the Father, he showed me all the pieces of the puzzle. He allowed me to put different pieces together to paint the picture of what the logic was, what the positives were going to be and what the implications might be. This time has allowed me to write a book, start blogging, spend more time with my wife and a lot more time with God.
Once God helped me get my bearings, it became easier to focus on what the next steps needed to be. Until this point, it felt like firefighting. But once I understood the scenario, I was able to put more focus of riding out the storm.
29Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. 30In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. 31Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall away.
One of the most important things to do in the middle of a storm is stay in community. Don’t run away. One of the easiest things to do when a major storm comes your way is to hide away. There are so many ways to find comfort when a storm hits. Some go into a depression, some look for comfort from alcohol, drugs or other destructive behaviors. But I have learned that it is absolutely critical to stay in community with God and with friends. Just as Paul cut the lifeboats to keep people together, it is sometimes necessary, to cut away the things that you think will save you. For example, if you think the bottle will save you, maybe you want to get rid of them for that season.
I tend to be an extrovert and like to be around people. But it was interesting that when this storm hit, all I wanted to do was to escape to a cave. It has been a long time since I have wanted to hide away. God used friends to ensure I stayed in community. There was a time I wanted to curl up and run to a cave. Not unlike David when he was being chased by Saul. I thank God those who pursued me and keeping me from going into depression. It was so important to be in community and to know that I had people who love me. They really kept me moving forward and pushing through the storm.
At the same time that I was trying to pull away from my friends, I was drawing closer to the Father. I was learning to surrender all of it to him. I had to surrender my job to Him. I had to surrender my future to Him. And with the friends that He put around me and His presence, I was able to see things clearer. You will as well, as long as you stay in community and draw close to God.