Event(s): Shipwrecked on Malta
Today’s Text: Acts 27:27-44
Tomorrow’s Text: Acts 28:1-16
After jumping through all kinds of legal hoops in Caesarea, Paul is on his way to Rome to plead his case before Caesar. Along with a crew of two hundred seventy six sailors and prisoners, he now finds himself in the middle of a life-threatening storm in the midst of the Mediterranean Sea.
God sends an angel to Paul in the middle of the night to encourage him and let him know he will make it – and not just him – but there would be no loss of life for anyone on the ship, though the ship itself would be destroyed. Paul shares this message with the rest of the crew, encouraging them to take heart. As we open today’s text, fourteen days have passed since Paul shared that word.
Acts 27:27 “about midnight the sailors sensed that they were drawing near some land.” These experienced sailors had a way of sensing approaching land. Not by sight, as it was midnight, but whether it was by smell (sailors do actually have the ability to smell nearby land) or whether it was by hearing the waves crashing against the shore, they knew they were near. First, they sensed it. Then, they took soundings, which confirmed what they sensed.
Let’s think about this for a moment. When one of our physical senses fails us, it’s well known that our other senses heighten to compensate. For example people who lose their sight are known to hear extremely well. Their hearing is overcompensating for the loss of sight. The same thing happens, spiritually speaking. There will be times we need to exercise and rely on our other spiritual senses to heighten when we can’t hear God or feel His presence in the way we may be accustomed to. It’s in those moments we need to pull closer to God even more, and discover the other ways God has created us to know Him.
Acts 27:30 “and as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship…” Not everyone believed the word God had given Paul and so their fear began to get the best of them. Worst part was, this was the ship’s crew (“the sailors”) that were getting ready to leave Paul, the captain, the soldiers and the prisoners to fend for themselves.
Acts 27:31 “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” Our decisions don’t just affect us. They affect those around us.
Acts 27:32 “the soldiers cut away the ropes of the skiff…” When God has called us to something and has made it very clear that’s where we’re supposed to be – one of the best things we could ever do is eliminate all other options.
Acts 27:34 “take nourishment, for this is for your survival…” When we’re going through difficult seasons, we tend to lose our appetite. We don’t eat, we don’t sleep, we start neglecting our personal care, etc. But notice that when Paul noticed this, he didn’t get up and start preaching. His practical action here reminds us that sometimes, one of the most “spiritual” things we can do is just sit down for a good meal, or take a nap!
Acts 27:34 “but the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them…” “The soldiers would have had to pay with their lives if their prisoners had escaped (cf. 12:19; 16:27). The centurion was willing to take responsibility for the prisoners’ safe-keeping in order to spare Paul’s life.” –Expository on the Book of Acts
Our fear instincts will always try and convince us to “jump ship” when things are getting tough. Leave the marriage as soon as things get rocky. Leave the home because we don’t agree with our parent’s rules. Leave the job as soon as the pressure starts to mount or it starts to become too inconvenient. Instead of asking God to help us and give us His wisdom, we plan our escape route. Sometimes, it’s very easy to leave because if we’re honest, we’ve never been fully “in” to begin with, and we’ve had our proverbial dinghy boat waiting safely nearby.
Is there a situation you wish you could just get out of? There may be times when the “God decision” means we walk away. But there are also times we’re supposed to remain. One of the best ways of knowing when to go and when not to is by the fruit of our decisions, and/or by the motivating force behind them, and of course always, by holding our decisions up to the truth in the word of God.
What or who else will our decision(s) impact? What kind of “wreckage” will we leave in our wake? Fear, frustration and offense will always tell us to bail out, give up or turn back, but if we can tell we’re operating in anything like that, we should probably take more time to think through our decision through and pass that decision through a few more filters.
Truth is, it’s through some of the most difficult trials that we learn some of the greatest lessons and our faith is strengthened. But there will also be times we need to remove ourselves from harmful environments. But it is the only the Holy Spirit, in His all-knowing wisdom and perfect guidance that can tell us when that should be. If you’re facing this type of decision, ask God for confirmation and run it by some friends who will be honest enough to tell you if you’re using godly wisdom.