Summary: The question is not "if" storms will come in our lives, but "when" will they come. How do we prepare ourselves beforehand to be ready?
Preparing for the Storms of ‘07
Acts 27:13-14, 39-44
January 7, 2007
Toni and I have some very good friends who just retired to Florida. They moved during the first week of November into a lovely home in Port Charlotte, on the Gulf Coast. They had built a very successful business and were able to retire early, while still in their fifties. We were lucky to be able to spend a couple of weeks in their house last year, and it is a great place. The only thing I would change about their place would be the gators that occasionally crawl up into their backyard.
A couple of years ago, the eye of one of the Florida hurricanes (I can’t remember which one) passed directly over their house, causing significant damage. When Toni and I were down there, we attended worship at their church - Evergreen United Methodist Church – which had suffered several million dollars in damage, and was still in the process of being cleaned up.
I made a unilateral decision a while back. It is very unusual for me to make a decision without first taking the counsel of my wife, but this time was different. I came home one day and announced that, when we retire, we are moving to someplace where we don’t have to take a snow shovel. If it ends up that that place is Florida, we are going to go to somewhere in the center of the state away from both coasts, so that we don’t have to evacuate every time a hurricanes comes, like those folks on each coast. Surprisingly, my wife agreed.
The fact is that if you live in Florida, you have to be ready for storms, because they will come. They will come up the Atlantic Coast or the Gulf Coast, but they will come. Christians know a lot about storms because the first fledgling steps made by the missionary Paul, were taken in the midst of a storm.
After traveling the length and breadth of the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, founding churches and caring for new Christians wherever he went, Paul decided to spend one Pentecost in Jerusalem. He didn’t know what would happen when he got there, but knew that there was trouble brewing and expected the worst.
When he arrived in Jerusalem, he checked in with James and the church there to report all that he had been doing. He told them about all of the successes that the new churches were having and the growth in the numbers of people believing in Jesus. James and the elders of the church were very pleased, but the Jews were still having a lot of trouble with the message. You see, Paul was resolute in his belief that people did not have to become a Jew before becoming a Christian. The Jews were incensed by that.
They dragged Paul outside of the Temple and did their best to kill him on the spot. He was rescued by the Roman soldiers garrisoned in the city who promptly put him under arrest for causing a riot. The Antonia Fortress sits right beside the Temple Mount and the soldiers took him into the fortress intending to torture him. As they tied him up ready to be whipped, Paul asked the captain of the guard if he was in the habit of torturing Roman citizens without a trial. The captain was amazed that Paul was a Roman citizen and asked him how much he had paid for his citizenship, because he had paid a huge sum of money for his. But Paul said that he had paid nothing because he was a citizen from birth. Saved from torture because of his citizenship, Paul was taken the next day before the Jewish Council.
Before they could get him before the Council, the soldiers heard of a plot to kill Paul, so they whisked him away to the city of Caesarea on the coast until he could have a hearing before the governor. He spent the next two years under house arrest in that city until a new governor came into power. He then appealed for his right as a Roman citizen to be tried in Rome by the Emperor.
So the beginning in the 27th chapter of Acts, we find the story of his journey from Israel to Rome. Their ship runs north along the coast of what is modern day Jordan until they get to the southern coast of what is now Turkey. But it was now late autumn, a dangerous time to be sailing. Paul warned them that they shouldn’t leave port, but the sailors wouldn’t listen. After all, he was just a preacher. What did he know about the sea?
A fierce storm came up and battered the tiny ship for fourteen days. The crew tried everything they could think of to get to land, but they couldn’t make headway at all. Paul, at one point said, “I told you so. You should have listened to me” (27:21).