Surviving the Storm
Today, Lord, I say with Samuel, “Speak, for Your servant is listening” (1 Sam. 3:10). I want to hear from You.
Read Acts 27:1-26
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
Consider how nature, even in all its ferocity and apparent indifference to us, is in the hand of the great Creator and Sustainer.
This time, Paul experiences a different sort of great escape. He had been at the mercy of a rioting mob in Ephesus, made peace with Christians angry with and suspicious of their former persecutor, and been imprisoned and flogged by the Roman authorities. This time he is at the mercy of a winter sea journey, with the wind against them and an owner and pilot who think they know better than he (11). The circumstantial description is very detailed, with all the feel of an eyewitness account.
Recently Richard Bauckham’s book, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, made an important case for reading the Gospels as testimony, not as mere history but as “the way the witnesses perceived the history, in an inextricable coherence of observable event and perceptible meaning.” I find this a very exciting way of thinking about how we can read the Gospels and, by extension, Acts.
For much of the story we get the blow-by-blow account of their predicament as desperate measures are taken and hope and food supplies gradually seep away. Then Paul makes his statement of encouragement and faith based on a message from an angel (21-26). Not only are the crew to be saved—which must have heartened them and probably come as a surprise as well—but this has all been for a purpose: so that Paul can stand and witness to Christ before the Roman emperor. That is not an encounter we read about in Acts. Paul’s central point, however, (that they will be saved for a purpose), bears further reflection. He knew the reason why he was preserved; the others were, we might say, saved for his purpose. Behind it all, was God’s purpose.
Have you been preserved for a purpose? Were you clear about God’s purpose at the time? Or have you only begun to recognize it now? How are you fulfilling it?
Sovereign God, it’s easy for me to feel caught in the grip of circumstances. Remind me again I’m in Your hands, and nothing can separate me from Your love.
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