If Only You had Listened
Heavenly Father, You are the Potter and I am the clay. Give me a supple, responsive soul to Your shaping hands.
Read ACTS 27:1-12
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“My son, if you accept my words… turning your ear to wisdom… then you understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God” (Prov. 2:1,2,5). Sometimes advice is not readily received.
Every parent in the world must at some time have felt, “If only you had listened you would not be in this trouble.” Paul probably felt the same. He was on his way to Rome accompanied by Luke and Aristarchus, under the escort of the centurion, Julius, and his soldiers. Their sailing ship was carrying grain from Alexandria (Egypt was Rome’s food-basket). Strong westerly winds had slowed progress and they were already into the time when weather conditions deteriorated rapidly before winter sea travel was impossible. Paul’s missionary trips included numerous sea voyages (some with Luke, 16:11; 20:6) and Paul had known dangers before (2 Cor. 11:25), so his advice would be valuable.
Once they reached Fair Havens, Paul warned them (whether from a revelation, or his God-given common sense) of disaster ahead if they risked sailing farther, but the majority decision was to winter in a safer harbor. The NIV “hoping” (12) is a weak translation of three Greek words expressing the extent of uncertainty in their decision (literally, “if,” “somehow,” “they might be able”). There is no guarantee that majority decisions will be right, especially when outcomes are extremely uncertain. Nor is there a guarantee that we will always know what is best. We must continually seek God’s mind and follow his all-knowing guidance.
Sometimes unwise decisions made by others cause us to suffer the consequences with them. Family members, churches and others do not always hear God correctly, if at all. How do we respond? Paul did not seek recrimination, although he reminded them that they hadn’t listened (21). We can never go back and remake poor decisions, but we can enable those involved to move forward with encouragement and hope. God’s forgiveness extends to our unwise decisions, and we should do the same for others.
Has someone close to you made an unwise decision that has affected your life? How do you feel about that? How can you forgive this person and help him or her move on?
Lord, I need a listening ear to hear Your word to me. And beyond that, give me a desire to obey You at all times.