Summary: As Paul goes through the storm in Acts 27 he is an example of who to go through the storm properly and how to be a blessing to others during the storm.
Illustration: Test pilots have a litmus test for evaluating problems. When something goes wrong, they ask, "Is this thing still flying?" If the answer is yes, then there’s no immediate danger, no need to overreact. When Apollo 12 took off, the spacecraft was hit by lightning. The entire console began to glow with orange and red trouble lights. There was a temptation to "Do Something!" But the pilots asked themselves, "Is this thing still flying in the right direction?" The answer was yes--it was headed for the moon. They let the lights glow as they addressed the individual problems, and watched orange and red lights blink out, one by one. That’s something to think about in any pressure situation. If your thing is still flying, think first, and then act.
Capt. Alan Bean, USN, Apollo Astronaut, in Reader’s Digest.
Acts 27:13-26, “When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Creete. Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the “northeaster,” swept down from the island. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure. When the men had hoisted it aboard, they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together. Fearing that they would run aground on the sandbars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and let the ship be driven along. We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved. After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.”
Life is full of moments like that, those moments when everything seems to go horribly wrong and we wonder not only what to do next, but if it will even matter. Sometimes we feel urgency to do something now, whether it’s wise or not, sometimes we feel completely out of control and wonder if there is even anything we can do. Paul was a man who knew what that was like. As we’ve walked through Acts we’ve seen and read his testimony. He started off as a man who was sure of himself. He started out as a man with his life pointed strongly in one direction and everything seemed to be going well for him. He was traveling around not only persecuting the church but doing so with the authority of the high priests. In other words as a young man he not only had their attention but their trust.
It was all going so well except he wasn’t going in the direction that God wanted him to go. So God turned him around, and not only set him off in the right direction. What we see happen for the rest of his life tells us about the priorities of God. See God doesn’t then make everything perfect in his life, God doesn’t give Paul a life a leisure, luxury and comfort. Instead God gives Paul a life of purpose, mission and impact. But to have all of those things happen, God has to change Paul and Paul has battles to fight, and storms to go through, some were literal, and some were personal. You see God’s view of our lives is for all eternity, not just this life, God already knows our destination, but He wants us to get the most out of the journey and to do the most we can along the way. That won’t always seem easy, but it will be worthwhile. As we look at this passage it is important to note that the Paul in this passage has seen and done a lot. Even though he was very accomplished at a young age, this older version of Paul has seen and experienced so much. What we see in this passage is part of the pay off of a life lived with Christ.