27:39 When it was day, they did not recognize the land; but they observed a bay with a beach, onto which they planned to run the ship if possible. 40 And they let go the anchors and left them in the sea, meanwhile loosing the rudder ropes; and they hoisted the mainsail to the wind and made for shore. 41 But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves.
If God plans the trip the sailing will be smooth right?
There are a lot of ideas and assumptions we hold to that are false. Many of us think it will be easier to be a good Christian after baptism. The opposite is actually true. Just look at Jesus. He faced his greatest struggle against Satan other than the cross immediately following His baptism.
We assume if we are in a right relationship with God that He will hear and answer our prayers. This too is false. Jesus prayed to be spared from the cross but God did not answer that prayer even though Jesus repeated it three times.
We assume good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. When the disciples saw a man blind from birth they asked Jesus "Who sinned, him or his parents that he was born blind?" Job's friends were certain he had done something wrong to deserve all his suffering. If our own sins are the cause of all our troubles Jesus must have been a horrible sinner.
Now consider these men on the ship with Paul. They are not innocent. They totally disregarded the warning to remain safely in port for the winter. The trouble they are in they brought on themselves because truthfully some trouble we experience is self-inflicted. To escape the trouble they had planned to abandon the ship. Paul warned them to stay. He said only those who remained on the ship would survive the ordeal. They stayed. The act of staying moved them from disobedience to obedience.
Now here's the kicker. Ingrained in us is the assumption that doing right and following God will be smooth. It will calm the waters. It will end the trouble. I can't tell you how many times I have heard people point to "smooth water" as an evidence that it must be God’s will. Remember how this whole mess started? A gentle south wind began to blow and they took it as a sign to set sail for a different port. We know how that went...
God's will is not to be decided based on circumstances. Certainly it is not to be assumed that "smooth waters" are His waters. Imagine if Jesus had lived His life here following the path of least resistance...
So the men stay on board and they finally see land. They are close to being safe at last... until they run aground on an unseen sand bar and the ship begins to be pounded apart by the relentless sea... Wasn't this God’s idea? Weren't they being obedient now? How could He let this happen?! How could my mom die of cancer, my friend die so young and so needlessly, my nephew die in my back yard at 5 years old?
It's time to develop a more mature faith. It's time to consider that God never promised a smooth passage. Jesus certainly didn't have one and He was perfect. He warned us and encouraged us with these words: "In this world you will have trouble but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world."
What was He saying?
Simply this. The journey to the Other Shore will be tempestuous at best but you will arrive. He arrived. The destination is assured no matter what happens on the way. Stay in the ship. Don't bail because of rough seas. You will make it... Love suffers long... but Love Wins!