Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” Acts 27: 24
Recently while visiting our boys, Bob and I took them to lunch and we were asking them lots of questions about school, their teachers, and what they did each day! We could tell that they weren’t very interested, and Cole finally said, “Could we talk about something else? We have to tell mom and dad about it every day!” And Miles said, “I know! We need a break!”
We laughed and then all agreed that even though they were back in school, they had had a great summer! I asked them what had been their favorite part. Both said immediately that it had been their adventure on a sailboat! We had seen pictures, and we asked if it was a little scary, since it was their first time. Cole said, “No way! It was fun! But it would have made you nervous, Granddad!” And Miles agreed, saying, “But we had mom, dad, and the boat captain with us, and they kept us safe!”
A few days ago I thought about this conversation while I was reading the Scripture passages about Paul sailing to Rome to stand trial before Caesar and how the ship had been involved in a violent storm. Paul was trying to encourage the other prisoners and sailors on board, and he told them of His encounter with an angel the night before and the angel’s words to him, in the above verse. I have always loved these words: “God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.”
I thought about how blessed we are to have the people that God has placed in our lives to help “anchor” us along the way. How they encourage us, help us, teach us, comfort and love us. And then I thought about our captain and our guide – our loving God who keeps us in His care as we navigate through the storms of life and how grateful we are for His presence.
What an example of strength and faith we find in Paul as he faced this life-threatening situation. He had been brought before the Roman officials because of His teachings about Christ – in the hope that he would be silenced – imprisoned or put to death. But Paul asked to appeal to the emperor, Caesar, and he was put on a ship to sail to Rome.
For 14 days, the ship was in a raging storm of hurricane force and the ship was destroyed, but amazingly, all the men either swam or held on to broken pieces of the ship until all 276 made it safely to shore. Paul never lost faith in God. He urged the others on board not to give up, to keep their courage, and to trust that what he had been promised would come true.
Paul knew that God would carry him to Rome for he believed that he was being obedient and walking in God’s plan for his life. He trusted that he was anchored in His care. He indeed arrived safely, was soon released to live in his own home (with a guard), and was able to tell many in Rome about Jesus and His kingdom to come.
What a journey of faith Paul traveled for the remainder of His life. We, too, must travel this uncertain course with faith. But how grateful we can be for those God has placed in our lives to help us along the way and for His loving reminder to not be afraid and to have courage – for we too will always be anchored in His care.
Dear Lord, thank you for your abiding love and presence with us and for those “you have graciously given us to sail along the way with us.” Thank you for the stories from your Word to assure us of your strength, comfort, and mercy. Amen