When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they could carry out their plan. They pulled up anchor and sailed closely along the coast of Crete. Before long, a hurricane-strength wind known as a northeaster swept down from Crete. The ship was caught in the storm and couldn’t be turned into the wind. So we gave in to it, and it carried us along. After sailing under the shelter of an island called Cauda, we were able to control the lifeboat only with difficulty. They brought the lifeboat aboard, then began to wrap the ship with cables to hold it together. Fearing they might run aground on the sandbars of the Gulf of Syrtis, they lowered the anchor and let the ship be carried along. We were so battered by the violent storm that the next day the men began throwing cargo overboard. On the third day, they picked up the ship’s gear and hurled it into the sea. When neither the sun nor the moon appeared for many days and the raging storm continued to pound us, all hope of our being saved from this peril faded. For a long time no one had eaten. Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have complied with my instructions not to sail from Crete. Then we would have avoided this damage and loss. Now I urge you to be encouraged. Not one of your lives will be lost, though we will lose the ship. Last night an angel from the God to whom I belong and whom I worship stood beside me. The angel said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul! You must stand before Caesar! Indeed, God has also graciously given you everyone sailing with you.’ Be encouraged, men! I have faith in God that it will be exactly as he told me. However, we must run aground on some island.” On the fourteenth night, we were being carried across the Adriatic Sea. Around midnight the sailors began to suspect that land was near. They dropped a weighted line to take soundings and found the water to be about one hundred twenty feet deep. After proceeding a little farther, we took soundings again and found the water to be about ninety feet deep. Afraid that we might run aground somewhere on the rocks, they hurled out four anchors from the stern and began to pray for daylight. The sailors tried to abandon the ship by lowering the lifeboat into the sea, pretending they were going to lower anchors from the bow. Paul said to the centurion and his soldiers, “Unless they stay in the ship, you can’t be saved from peril.” The soldiers then cut the ropes to the lifeboat and let it drift away. Just before daybreak, Paul urged everyone to eat. He said, “This is the fourteenth day you’ve lived in suspense, and you’ve not had even a bite to eat. I urge you to take some food. Your health depends on it. None of you will lose a single hair from his head.” After he said these things, he took bread, gave thanks to God in front of them all, then broke it and began to eat. Everyone was encouraged and took some food. (In all, there were two hundred seventy-six of us on the ship.) When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea. (Acts 27:13-38, CEB)
This is another story now that has all new meaning for me after sailing on Lake Michigan. Yeah, it was a Great Lake and not an ocean, but the storms can be just as deadly. No, it wasn’t a hurricane, but they were some descent-size waves for the small boat we were in.
The story was that my wife and I were going to stay at a harbor in Door County Wisconsin with the captain of the boat I sailed on and his wife. We set out on our anniversary from the home sailing club and started a nice slow sail across the lake. The wind was very lite that day and we were only going a couple of knots per hour. But we were not in a hurry so we let it go. But as we were a few miles from the port, the sky turned dark and the wind started picking up, but blowing towards us and the captain who is usually very talkative, was dead silent and staring ahead at the storm. We quickly pulled down the sail and put on the motor, and the 25 ft boat was going over 6 foot waves, and the motor was coming our of the water on every wave and we were getting rocked and thrown. It was hard to stay in the upper deck and not go down into the cabin, but going into the cabin surely meant getting sick. The water from the waves was soaking everything, and our captain was intently staring into the storm to get us safely to port.
Much like Paul in the reading, our captain did his best to keep us all safe. And we arrived at the port, and all of us took a night to recoup and recover. Trust in one who had a connection is the way to live life on the edge and stay safe in the midst of storms.
What storms are raging in your life that you need to listen to God and/or that trusted source?
Loving People. Loving God.