Acts 27:13-26 (ESV)
Now when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to the shore. But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land. And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. Running under the lee of a small island called Cauda, we managed with difficulty to secure the ship's boat. After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along. Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. And on the third day they threw the ship's tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.
Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on some island.”
Gordon Lightfoot said it best in The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, “Does anyone know where the love of God goes, when the waves turn the minutes to hours?” In today’s passage, we see His love.
The Lord does something unusual here; he gives these distraught sailors very specific news of their future. This isn’t some cryptic prophesy where “weeks” means “years.” They will survive this tempest.
Paul’s “I told you so” is blunt, but he still delivers great news. Paul says that he has seen an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship. (Boy just can’t stop preaching, can he?) The angel tells him, “God has granted you all those who sail with you.” Buried in this is the implication that Paul had prayed for everyone to be saved. That’s interesting because he had earlier predicted injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives. He prayed that he would be wrong!
But the fascinating part is the reason the angel gives for their deliverance. You must stand before Caesar.
That, not all those lives, is the important thing.
God’s priorities were different for the crew of the Edmund Fitzgerald, but his love was the same.
Do you know someone who is grieving? Sometimes God’s love is hard to see and even harder to feel. When people need to be comforted, explaining God’s priorities isn’t helpful. If you know someone who is going through a rough patch, check in. Find out how you can help and how you can pray for them.
Loneliness often accompanies grief. That we can fix.
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