27:4 When we had put to sea from there, we sailed under the shelter of Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. 5 And when we had sailed over the sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. 6 There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing to Italy, and he put us on board.
7 When we had sailed slowly many days, an arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us to proceed, we sailed under the shelter of Crete off Salmone. 8 Passing it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.
Boring right? I mean who cares what islands they sailed past? Unless of course you are a geographical historian of that era or you have a knowledge of and an interest in the sailing ships and methods of the time.
So what about the rest of us? Are we just supposed to skip past? I admit that yesterday I read all of chapter 27 and I wondered what could be gleaned from their travel itinerary. However something happened in the early hours this morning that changed all that. At 3:47 we were jarred awake by a persistent knocking on our door. A man driving by saw that the shop next to us was on fire. He wanted to alert us and use our phone to call 911. The shop is a local business that provides the entire livelihood for a local family. A report about the fire would tell you what happened to the building but not how it may affect that family. Behind facts there are people.
With those concerns in mind this morning I saw something new in the apparently random (even unnecessary) details about their voyage at sea.
Here is what I saw between the lines. Paul has been sailing for years from port to port eager to make Jesus known. The travelling was not by plane. It wasn't even by comfy cruise ships. It was a lot of tossing and storms and risking his life for people he had never even met yet. There was no travel budget. No reimbursement for expenses. He was a man on a mission. His thought was not about himself but others and although we are not told much about it we get enough glimpses to know the journey was not easy. If the ship carrying the royal guard was having that much trouble getting across the Mediterranean imagine some of the boats Paul likely took all those years of preaching from city to city.
That's what struck me yesterday and this morning. All around us we see and hear but behind everything and everyone there is a story. When I went to the tiny coop grocery store here yesterday one of the clerks came to me. She was excited. Her eyes were literally sparkling with joy. She has been instrumental in spearheading a drive to help the less fortunate in our area. There is a story behind that too. There is always a story.
Next time you read, or see, or hear something that catches your attention by the sheer random boringness of it stop to consider the back story, the hidden story, the untold story. There is always more to the story...