Summary: This message consider how we need to journey through life. The focus in on what to be on guard against and who to look to - Jesus - in order to see you through the ups and downs.
Storms on the Sea of Life
Here we are at the start of a New Year and today I want us to consider how we are going to travel life this year.
Sea stories are common – The Sydney to Hobart; ancient literature; Titanic - $1.8 billion US; Moby Dick, etc. The Bible has a few: - Noah’s Ark, Jonah, Jesus on the Sea of Galilee and here in Acts 27.
Life has often been compared to the Sea. If we take this view the passage teaches us far more than we realise. When I was reading this passage a few things came to me – Seas and Storms; Soldiers and Sailors; Slaves and Saint.
1. Seas and Storms
Here at the start of Acts 27 Paul is in the process of being sent to Rome to be tried by the Emperor. The only way to Rome was by sea. Life is often compared to a journey. The picture in this account is that of life being a journey on the sea. We are all on this sea whether we like it or not. Our lives are subject to Nature. There are forces beyond us. Paul is here subject to these forces. We are all like ‘ships in the night’. Our lives are lived on this journey of life - this sea of life. We fool ourselves in thinking that is done in the safety and security of our own individual vessel – our own ship which we are said to be ‘the captain’ – ‘captain of our own destiny’. But as this story in Acts 27 shows, this myth is blown apart.
This account of Paul’s journey to Rome tells of varying conditions that all impacted on the way the journey went. Wind, Hurricanes and Storms all controlled where and how Paul’s ship was faring. All these things were out of his control. The sea has this quality – it can be tranquil, rhythmical and then furious and frightening. We make plans but they are all subject to forces outside ourselves. This goes against the grain – against our human nature. Individually and collectively we attempt look to ourselves to save the day. The false belief of self-sufficient and self-dependence is the product of the fallen state of the human condition.
At home we have a set-top-box for our TV. We are subject to forces outside our control. My youngest daughter loves to watch her Kids show but when the wind gets going the picture is full of interference. To her absolute grief there is nothing I can do to fix it.
Notice how those in the ship used all that was in their power to be in control – to take control:
- Ropes tied to hold the ship together v17
- Using their anchors v18
- Throwing cargo and tackle overboard v18
We have this natural desire to do something – to take control of our circumstances.
When I was a boy I was told by my I was going to be good with my hands – I was going to be a plumber. I tried and tried but it was no use – I was hopeless. We are far more limited than we think.
We need to learn this lesson – ultimately in life we are not in control. Do we give up, sit and do nothing, blame everyone else and everything else for our situation? – NO! But we do need to accept that Life is filled with circumstances outside our control.
It is how we manage those circumstances - that is important. When we live life in our own strength it leads to:
- Being driven off course
- Being battered v18
- Being confused with no sense of direction v19
- Hopelessness v20
- Hunger – want v21
God does not promise No Storms, but He does promise that He will be with us no matter what.
2. Soldiers and Sailors
Besides the forces of nature, another important factor in this narrative in Acts 27 is the human factor. Here we have soldiers and sailors. That is the way it is with life. Not only do we have to contend with the forces of Nature we have to cope with others. Other people have an influence and affect on our lives. Here Paul is subject to the decisions and actions of others. Whether it was visiting friends or how and when he was to travel – all these things were subject to the Julius a Roman centurion, v1.
It is worth observing how decisions were made by both the soldiers and sailors:
- Decision made in haste vv.6-7
- Focus on comfort and convenience v12a
- Formulated on the voice of the majority v12b
- Founded on circumstances v13