Summary: A five-step action plan for dealing with the personal storms of life.
A little over a week ago, the news broke that my cousin’s wife had left him. Not only that, but she had left him with their children. So now he has to cope with losing her, hoping for a reconciliation, and the prospect of raising their children without her. As far as I know, this was unexpected. No one planned for it to happen, but it did. They’ve entered into a storm in their lives.
This past Wednesday, a tragic accident in Martinvale killed three young men and seriously injured a fourth. All four of these men were from Morell, and this tragedy will leave a gaping hole in this small community. My wife works in Morell a couple days a week at the pharmacy there, so she is sure to interact with some of the family members. This is a storm that these families and this community are now going through.
This past week I found out that another relative of mine is going through a storm. I don’t know the nature of the storm… I don’t know what brought it on or how serious it is… all I know is they asked for prayer.
There’s something I can say with certainty about you and personal storms…
Heading into a storm
Currently going through a storm, or
Just coming out of a storm
What we’re going to do this morning is take a look at a physical storm found in the Bible in the book of Acts, and draw some parallels for how we can cope with the personal storms that we endure.
The physical storm I’m talking about took place in October about 1944 years ago. Let me give you some of the background. The Apostle Paul had been arrested and was to stand trial. The charges that were brought against him were brought by the Jewish religious leaders who felt threatened by Paul and the emerging Christian church. The exact charges that they brought are recorded in Acts 24:5-6. The religious leaders told the authorities:
Acts 24:5-6 (NLT)
“For we have found him to be a troublemaker, a man who is constantly inciting the Jews throughout the world to riots and rebellions against the Roman government. He is a ringleader of the sect known as the Nazarenes. Moreover he was trying to defile the Temple when we arrested him.”
Here’s the thing: In this era, in this day and age, being a leader of any religious sect without Roman approval was against the law, and causing riots and dissention in the Empire was considered treason against Caesar and was punishable by death. So these religious leaders had caused dissention themselves and blamed it on Paul, had exaggerated some of Paul’s actions, and had manufactured other charges against Paul in an attempt to get rid of him. So Paul, being a Roman citizen, claimed his right as a Roman citizen and appealed his case directly to Caesar, which would be the equivalent of us appealing to the Supreme Court.
In order for that to happen, though, Paul needed to be transported to Rome. And that’s when things get interesting. Let’s pull up a map and take a look at this journey.
The journey began here in Jerusalem with the final destination being all the way over here on the other end of the map. So they left Jerusalem and boarded a ship in Caesarea. This particular ship was just travelling to different ports along the coasts, and the plan was to find another ship in one of these ports that was sailing for Italy.
So they set off from Caesarea and landed the next day in Sidon, about 110 km (70 miles) north. They set out to sea again, and encountered some prevailing winds coming out of the west. So in order to use the island of Cyprus as protection, they sailed up the eastern side of the island and then across the northern side, until finally they landed in the port of Myra in Lycia. That’s where they found a ship heading for Italy and boarded it.
But when they set out from there, they were still battling the winds and made slow headway. They aimed to land here in Cnidus, but the winds wouldn’t let them hold their course, so they ended up sailing down the eastern side of Crete, finally landing in the port of Fair Havens.
But by now, they had lost a lot of time. In fact, it was after the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, which would most likely put them in early October. As a general rule, the Romans considered sailing after September 15th to be questionable, and sailing after November 11th to be suicidal. So they would have been right in the middle of that questionable period. Paul himself warned them that their voyage would be disastrous, but the centurion talked it out with the pilot and owner of the ship and they thought they’d be able to reach the port of Phoenix which was more sheltered and they could spend the winter there.