Summary: An encouragement to stay maintain your relationship with God despite the inevitable struggles (storms) that come your way. Your only guarantee or safe arrival is to abide in the ship knowing that God is faithful to keep His promises.
Stay on Board
True Story: In the early 1990s in the community of Britonville, St. Ann a truck was transporting some persons along a main road and was now heading up a hill. The truck developed some problems and couldn’t make the climb. It got more complicated and, as it was told, the truck began to run backwards off the hill. In a panic one woman decided to jump off in an effort to save her life. Consequently, she was the only one to lose her life when she was crushed by the weight of the moving truck as it slammed into the banking and the adjacent stone wall. The others were all shaken up, yes, but they were all alive.
I wish to speak primarily to the new believers among us but certainly also to the entire body of Christ which is inclusive of all of us who are Children of God. The objective being to admonish and encourage us in view of present and impending or potential challenges, troubles, trials or storms, if you will. Such an encouragement is both necessary and important because, and let me hasten to submit, storms are inevitable! I want to be very frank and true to especially those whose walk with God has just begun lest I should be numbered among those who only tell you about the joys of Christianity without also telling you that the journey to Glory is one that can be as much perplexing as it is satisfying. In other words we have all read and have come to love the Psalms and the favourite of many, Psalm 23. We love to hear the comforting words “The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters…” But it is important that you also become aware that there will also be some stormy seas, with menacing waves and boisterous winds. There will be times you will feel like you no longer want to be on-board this ship; moments when it looks like you can’t make it; occasions where it all seems to make no sense; situations that make it appear like God has forsaken you; days when it seems all hope is lost.
And when you begin to encounter these kinds of realities, brothers and sisters, the easiest thing to do is panic and to try to jump ship but I have been instructed to encourage your hearts and to tell you to stay on board. The story of Paul and those with who found themselves in this shipwreck of a situation serves as a fitting context from which to draw some salient points and to encourage your hearts. Allow me to give you a quick look into the background and how Paul found himself here. Acts 23 records that based upon Paul’s incessant preaching of the Gospel, he was seized of the Jews and they plotted to kill him, swearing an oath, the Bible says, to neither eat nor drink till they had done so, and for what? Verses 5-6 of chapter 24 states that when they brought him before Felix, Governor of Caesarea, their lawyer Tertullus described him as a pestilent fellow, a mover of sedition (treason) among the Jews, a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes and one who profaned (corrupted, desecrated) the temple. Charges, which the text says, they were never able to prove (25:7). After being imprisoned for two years in order to appease the Jews his case was again heard by Festus who took over from Felix as Governor. It was here that he appealed to be heard by Caesar, Emperor of Rome. He was heard also of King Agrippa, Grandson of Herod the Great and son of Herod Agrippa who killed James the Apostle, ruler over Galilee, who paid a royal visit to Festus.
What is interesting to note in all of this is the common thread running throughout the text. In each successive chapter and at each court hearing, while the Jews wanted to kill Paul, it is repeatedly stated that Paul had done nothing to deserve punishment or worse, death. Might I pause long enough to point out that when you are a Child of God, worse when you are determined to live for God and to do His work, that alone will be reason for others to hate you and worse to try to destroy you. Folk will talk about you, tell lies about you and try to ruin your name. You don’t have to do a thing to a soul; you don’t have to trouble anybody. But I heard Paul declare in Col 3:3 – For ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God. This is really the spiritual life to which Paul refers and that we are dead to sin. But it also refers to the fact that your life in Christ is inaccessible to man. This is how David puts it in Psa 118:6 - “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” You can rock my boat but you can’t turn it over!