Has God ever allowed your life to “shipwreck?”
Acts 27 tells the story of Paul’s journey to Rome as a prisoner. The orthodox Jews have trumped up charges against him, out of jealousy because many were turning to faith in Christ as a result of his preaching. After presenting his case to Governor Festus in Jerusalem, Paul appeals to be tried in Caesar’s court, knowing he has done nothing wrong. He is handed over to a centurion named Julius, and along with other prisoners, sets sail on his journey to Rome.
Paul warns the pilot and captain of the ship that it is not in their best interest to put out to sea; the time for sailing has passed, and he advises them to delay their journey. Julius, the centurion, disagrees, wanting to get this assignment over, so they stubbornly set out. Just as Paul warned, however, a storm rushes down into the Mediterranean Sea, and they battle for fourteen days against the high winds and waves. They are convinced the ship will sink and they will all die.
Fortunately for the occupants of the ship, God fully intends for Paul to be delivered safely to Rome; He sends an angel to assure Paul that everyone on board will also survive, but before they get to their final destination, there will be a detour. The ship must be wrecked…they are to run aground on a nearby island.
The events play out just as God’s angel foretold. Sensing that land is near, they cast off their anchors and allow the ship to run aground. The centurion commands everyone to swim for the shore, and they all arrive – scared, drenched, and exhausted…but alive.
God wrecked their ship and detoured their plans. For three months, the natives of the island, Malta, extend hospitality to the crew, the soldiers, and the prisoners. When it was time to leave, they supplied everything they needed as they boarded an Alexandrian ship that took them to Rome. The favor of God that rested on and protected Paul also protected those with him.
Question. What might Paul have done during the three months they wintered on that little island? Do you think they sat around the campfire at night talking about Jesus? Might he have shared some of his stories of the miraculous things he had experienced since meeting the Savior on the road to Damascus? I’m confident that by the time they left, many of the soldiers, the crew, and the prisoners, as well as the natives of the island had been given an opportunity to hear the gospel and had a greater understanding and appreciation for the omnipotent, omniscient God that Paul served. Surely many came to faith and were born again into the family of God.
Sometimes our salvation comes through a shipwreck.
Has God “wrecked your ship?” Are you walking through an unexplained trial or hardship that is out of your control? Are the winds and waves buffeting, giving you a very real expectation that your ship might not survive?
Take heart. When God allows a shipwreck in our lives, He’s got a greater purpose in mind. How many of us can testify that it was only when our plans “ran aground” and there was no way out, that was precisely the moment we found hope in God? We’re stubborn people. Sometimes God has to send us on a detour to get our attention, but rest assured He will get us safely to shore.
One last thought. When the ship was in peril, the crew knew to lighten the load. They began throwing the excess cargo overboard. At that moment, they realized that if they didn’t come out of the storm with their lives, the extra “stuff” they were carrying wouldn’t mean a thing. Perhaps it won’t take a shipwreck to get your attention; maybe the wind and the waves are enough. Is there something in your life that needs to go overboard? Something you’re holding onto that God says “let go;” a sin you’re justifying, a wrong belief or even something good that you know isn’t best? Get rid of it. Throw it out. Lighten the load so that you can navigate the storm.
If (and when) God wrecks your ship, know that He still holds you safely in His hand, and that you will not only survive, but you will see His power displayed in amazing ways. Cut loose your anchors and give way to His plans. There is salvation on the other side of the shipwreck.