Wow. What an exciting chapter! I pulled up a map to get a sense of the places Luke writes about: departing from Sidon, sailing north of Cyprus to Crete and being blown all the way to Malta (which looks dinky in the vast blue sea). I’m immersed in the action by all the details—the decision to sail for a better winter harbor, the difficulty of hoisting the lifeboat aboard, the tactics of putting out sea anchors and jettisoning cargo. I can’t imagine the terror of enduring this for two weeks—too frightened (and probably too sick) to even eat.
How good God is to reassure Paul that not only he would survive, but so would all 276 people on board! I’m not sure I would have found the promise of standing trial before Caesar to be a comfort, exactly—though perhaps it would seem a lot better (and less immediate) than being pitched into a cold, roiling sea.
I’m struck by how focused on his mission Paul is. Being ordered to stand trial before Caesar sounds terrifying, but Paul is possibly acutely aware of what a platform this will be to share the gospel. Literally come hell or high water, he is focused. He comes across as almost serene. And his faith and special mission means that not only is he protected, but all aboard. How good of God to appear in dreams and provide prophecy to reveal himself to the cross-section of sailors, soldiers, and prisoners aboard. How much more weight would God’s provision and protection have carried because of enduring this horrible situation than if they’d all hunkered down in a harbor somewhere for the winter. Yes, that old chestnut: it is so often in the terrifying, rocking, sideways motion of the difficult things in life where we see God most clearly.
Lord, teach me to see you, to listen to your direction. Help me to be obedient beforethe storms of life knock some sense into me.