“When they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the Syrtis Sands, they struck sail so were driven” (Acts 27:17).
Saul was headed to Rome. Taking advantage of his Roman citizenship, he had appealed to Caesar for judgment. During his voyage by sea, a terrible storm arose, tossing the boat violently and leaving them adrift on the water. Paul had advised them not to go forward with the trip, but the centurion had greater faith in the pilot and the captain’s experience, who recommended going ahead, trusting that southern winds would help carry them to their destination. How many shipwrecks would we avoid if we learned to listen to God’s warnings, and not just to the experts. Experience comes by making good decisions, and we learn to make good decisions by clinging to the Word of God.
The storm got worse, and they were unable to make port. The crew had to throw part of the cargo overboard, including the food supply for themselves and the more than two hundred passengers, counting prisoners and guards. A hurricane like wind that stirred up enormous, dangerous waves carried the ship southeast, and it was impossible to change its direction. In those days, there were no compasses to guide ships; by day they were guided by the sun and at night, by the stars. The storm kept them from discerning which direction they were going in, so they were just drifting wherever the winds and waves took them.
“For fourteen days they drifted under a sunless and starless heaven.
The apostle, though himself suffering physically, had words of hope for the darkest hour, a helping hand in every emergency. He grasped by faith the arm of Infinite Power, and his heart was stayed upon God. He had no fears for himself; he knew that God would preserve him to witness at Rome for the truth of Christ. But his heart yearned with pity for the poor souls around him, sinful, degraded, and un- prepared to die. As he earnestly pleaded with God to spare their lives, it was revealed to him that his prayer was granted.”— The Acts of the Apostles, ch. 42. p. 329.
We have been drifting in this world for a long time. We are tossed about in a stormy sea, where the waves are riled up by Satan himself. One Storm follows another without intervals of peace. But we can count on our heavenly compass; our faith in God.
Let us go forward in trust, because our Pilot is Jesus, and He will keep us afloat until we reach the safe port.