27For 14 days and nights we had been blown around over the Mediterranean Sea. But about midnight the sailors realized we were getting near land. 28They measured and found that the water was about 40 meters deep. A little later they measured again and found it was only about 30 meters. 29The sailors were afraid that we might hit some rocks, and they let down four anchors from the back of the ship. Then they prayed for daylight.
30The sailors wanted to escape from the ship. So they lowered the lifeboat into the water, pretending that they were letting down some anchors from the front of the ship. 31But Paul said to Captain Julius and the soldiers, “If the sailors don't stay on the ship, you won't have any chance to save your lives.” 32The soldiers then cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall into the sea.
33Just before daylight Paul begged the people to eat something. He told them, “For 14 days you have been so worried that you haven't eaten a thing. 34I beg you to eat something. Your lives depend on it. Do this and not one of you will be hurt.”
35After Paul had said this, he took a piece of bread and gave thanks to God. Then in front of everyone, he broke the bread and ate some. 36They all felt encouraged, and each of them ate something. 37There were 276 people on the ship, 38and after everyone had eaten, they threw the cargo of wheat into the sea to make the ship lighter.
39Morning came, and the ship's crew saw a coast they did not recognize. But they did see a cove with a beach. So they decided to try to run the ship aground on the beach. 40They cut the anchors loose and let them sink into the sea. At the same time they untied the ropes that were holding the rudders. Next, they raised the sail at the front of the ship and let the wind carry the ship toward the beach. 41But it ran aground on a sandbank. The front of the ship stuck firmly in the sand, and the rear was being smashed by the force of the waves.
42The soldiers decided to kill the prisoners to keep them from swimming away and escaping. 43But Captain Julius wanted to save Paul's life, and he did not let the soldiers do what they had planned. Instead, he ordered everyone who could swim to jump into the water and head for shore. 44Then he told the others to hold on to planks of wood or parts of the ship. At last, everyone safely reached shore.
If one reads the story of the storm and shipwreck with spiritual understanding, the activity of the Lord is plain to see. God’s in charge of everything. There are no coincidences in life. God presides over every circumstance. There’s no twist of fate or stroke of good fortune that randomly strikes. God, not luck, decides what occurs in human affairs. “We make our own decisions, but the Lord alone determines what happens” Proverbs 16:33.
God, not chance, was leading Paul to Rome. Like Paul, we all have a destination. Your destination probably isn’t Rome, but there’s a purpose, a place of service in this world, for every Christian. Are you sure of God’s intention for your life? If not, ask the Lord to show you. Then, when you know the destination, although there may be storms and shipwrecks along the way, persevere to reach it and fulfill your appointment.
But back to the text. What stands out is how it’s not the ship’s captain or the centurion who call the shots, it’s Paul. He’s the one who tells everyone to be courageous (vv.21-26), stay together (vv.27-32), eat food (vv.33-38), and thereby help every person reach land in safety (vv.39-44). Paul was a man of faith and works. And conspicuously, he didn’t allow his status as a prisoner to deter him from taking action when people needed to be saved. That’s not arrogance, it’s God given audacious courage!
So emulate Paul. As you journey through life, encourage and help everyone you meet. Don’t wait until your circumstances improve. Don’t wait until the storms abate. Don’t wait until you’re safe. Don’t wait until you’re in charge. And don’t wait until you get to your destination. For it’s on the way to where you’re going that God provides opportunities for you to serve and save others in the name of Christ.
Lord, thank you that with you in charge of everything, I don’t need to be anxious about anything. And thank you that because you’re in charge of everything I can get on with serving and saving others in the name of Christ. Amen.