At the helm, undaunted, through the maelstrom
Storms at sea can become quite ferocious and dangerous. Ships can be caught in wind-driven seas, at odds against the elements as they attempt to cut through the walls of water, which are beating against the vessel from every direction. A boat is a limited fortress against the roaring, raging sea.
Even the best seamen are little match against the ferocious waters. They can only hope and pray to be able to maintain their vessel, and ride out the storm. Adjustments to the ship and cargo are sometimes necessary to complete the journey.
In the Bible book of Acts, the 27th chapter, we read about Paul’s relocation to Rome, and his foretelling of the dangers of the impending voyage. Paul’s experience in the storm and shipwreck that he would encounter, could be the script for a great adventure movie, but there is much more to this incident than the excitement. For in this story there are some valuable lessons that we can learn as we continue the adventures of our own lives.
Acts 27:14 says: “But not long after there arose a tempestuous wind…” This was the beginning of dangers for the little ship. The three key things that altered the outcome of the potential critical situation would follow. The non-essentials were cast off the ship. “Living” became the sailors number one goal. Cargo and baggage were cast off to lighten the load. When our spiritual life … living for Christ … becomes the most important thing to us, we will shed all those things that weigh us down and hinder our progress.
Luke writes that: “all hope that we should be saved was then taken away” (v. 20). However, the faithfulness of Paul revealed God’s intervention by way of an angel, telling Paul to fear not! God Intervenes! One of the many blessings of being a Christian is the knowledge that God will never leave nor forsake us. Jesus has not forgotten you in the hold of the ship either. He is ever interceding on your behalf before the Father.
When the storm clouds are gathering over head, and the seas are buffeting against your weakened vessel … look up! You will see the Son shining through the darkness. Jesus still calms stormy seas.
A third lesson to be recognized here is that Paul’s divine instruction came as a result of his time of fasting and prayer (v. 9). Throughout scripture, prayer accompanied with fasting brought forth victory to God’s people. God has halted mighty armies coming against his people, provided wisdom and guidance to his kings and prophets, and calmed mighty storms.
When it seems like your boat is beginning to sink, get rid of those things, the non-essentials, that are weighing you down, acknowledge God’s omnipresence, pray and fast — for victory is just ahead.
There is no way to keep periodic storms out of our lives, but we can keep them in perspective if we will remind ourselves that God is at the helm.