Paul’s last voyage was not a pleasant one. From Caesarea he was being sent to Rome as a prisoner to be tried before Caesar. The storm they encountered was causing the ship to break apart as it ran upon the rocks near the beach of Malta. Before this final running aground where the bow stuck and the stem was being broken by the surf there was an opportunity for the prisoners to escape by throwing out the anchor and letting down the lifeboat. This could have been Paul’s chance to avoid being carried to Rome. But, he knew that what was happening was within the realm of God’s plans for him.
The following night, after Paul had been arrested, “the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.” Acts 23:11
Then, during the storm Paul stands to encourage all who are in the ship, “Take heart for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, Do not be afraid Paul, your must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you. So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on some island.” Acts 27:22-26
Paul trusted God’s plan for him; he trusted His Word; and he was obedient to the will of God. His was the example of the obedience of faith that he preached through the gospel to the Roman Christians.
God’s plans for us may be that we go through the storms and waves of this world. The relationship we are in may break up and seemingly all hope is lost, but in faith we must stay in the ship. Our relationship with God may encounter upheavals; our fellowship with other believers may run aground, but we are called to obedience to stay in the ship and endure through the entire course, even if that means that we are heading toward the final end of this life. Paul endured his last voyage with other prisoners and soldiers; undoubtedly they were non-believers, not knowing the promises or power of God to save His people. Paul is the example for us, even in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation to shine as lights in the darkness.
Cutting Away the Lifeboat
“Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it go.” Acts 27:32
God is able: and He promises in His Word never to leave us, nor forsake us. At times He may have to cut away the ropes of anything that might help us to abandon ship. His church is that great ship that has often been run aground, but He has not forsaken her. Many leave the ship, and often have a difficult time finding it again.
Marriage and family are ships that have to bear the storms, many find these relationships on the rocks; but when we rely on God promises, His presence and power as Paul did, we will experience His working through the upheavals to restore these ships, sometimes to better relationships than they were before.
We may be the only one with faith, courage, and perseverance to stay with the ship, knowing the God to whom we belong and worship. We may be the only light that God chooses to save a whole family from darkness and disaster. This is a reality that is accepted with humility, not pride. It can be a heavy burden for us, but in time it will produce the joy that He intends for us. Wherever we are is where God places us; to testify of Him.