27:27 Now when the fourteenth night had come, as we were driven up and down in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors sensed that they were drawing near some land. 28 And they took soundings and found it to be twenty fathoms; and when they had gone a little farther, they took soundings again and found it to be fifteen fathoms. 29 Then, fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come. 30 And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, when they had let down the skiff into the sea, under pretense of putting out anchors from the prow, 31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the skiff and let it fall off.
Did you catch that? The sailors are praying.
Now hear this. Let's review a little bit. The ship could have been safely in harbour and the men peacefully resting on shore for the winter. Had they listened to God's counsel that is exactly what would have happened. However they didn't listen. They didn't like that port. Maybe the nightlife was too tame. Maybe the hotels were not up to snuff. Maybe the local cooking was not to their preferences. We are not told why they didn't want to winter there. We just know they didn't. Their desires ran contrary to God's instruction and we know what usually happens in those instances, especially to men who barely know Him and have little reason to trust Him.
As soon as the weather gave them any kind of favourable sign they pulled anchor and took off, right into the storm God used Paul to warn them about. Suddenly hardened sailors are praying men. God was at work...
Lesson: There is a lesson to be learned from today's reading that none of us can afford to miss. When we choose to blaze a trail contrary to God's instruction trouble will come. The trouble is rarely if ever caused by God. The trouble is a result of going the wrong way and God warned against that way precisely because it was lined with trouble. When the trouble comes God does not walk away. He goes after His wayward sheep. He sees them even when they are a long way off the trail. He calls. He gives a new set of instructions on how to survive the unnecessary storm.
Notice what the sailors wanted to do. They wanted to run away from the problems they created themselves. It was their feelings and desires that got them into the mess and now those same feelings and desires are telling them to run. However God had a very different message. He told them to stay with the ship. He told them the ship was the only place of safety.
What does that ship represent? Trust in God. Don’t run away. It will be a powerful life lesson when God takes our mess and makes a masterpiece. All things work together for good for those who love(trust) God and are called (listen) according to His purpose. (plan)
God has created us with complete freedom. We can stay when He says stay or we can pull anchor and sail any direction we choose when He says stay. He is not a controlling God. He wants us to follow Him based on love and trust, not force or reluctant duty.
We can read about what others chose but at the end of the day we must choose also. I am just thankful God stays with us even when we make the wrong choice. There truly is no Other.