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Just Another Horrible Day at Sea

By Carol Duerksen

 

Are you tired of having every preacher/teacher/writer endeavoring to give you spiritual insights connected to the pandemic?

I am, at least part of the time.  But it seems to be the thing to do, and for good reason. We all need ideas on how to survive this unusual time.

So, I ‘ll take my turn at it, and since I know nothing about sailing, ships at sea, living on a boat, weather over the ocean, or how it would feel to be prisoner on a ship, I will write about that.

Acts 27 tells the story of Paul being one of a number of prisoners on a ship headed for Italy so he can be put on trial for his faith. So this wasn’t a comfortable Carnival cruise to begin with, and it went downhill (how do you say downhill in nautical terms?) from there.

The trip had a bad start because the winds were not cooperating, and the ship couldn’t make good time.   It was getting close to a season of weather when the winds and water would be very rough, and they needed to avoid that. Paul even advised against continuing the trip because of the potentially bad weather, but for some reason the centurion making the decisions didn’t listen to the prisoner Paul’s advice. The pilot and the owner of the ship wanted to go for it, and so they did.

Bad decision.  An intensely strong wind pushed the ship faster than it could safely travel, so they dropped  the anchor to try to hold the ship in one place and one piece. But that just made the wind bang on the ship even harder, and it felt like it could break at any time.

This wasn’t a quick storm that blew away soon. It lasted for many days. Everyone was convinced they were going to die.

Everyone except the prisoner Paul.

Paul stood up and told everyone that he had received a message from an angel from God saying that the ship would be lost, but everyone would survive. “Keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we will have to run aground on some island.”

Two weeks later, they were still drifting at sea without any help from the wind to get them to some land. Then some sailors saw what might be land ahead, and. . .it was!

It got a little complicated with the sailors wanting to get to land first and not helping the prisoners, but they got that sorted out. Paul encouraged everyone to eat something so they would have strength to get to shore, and he took a loaf of bread, broke it, gave God thanks for it, and ate. There were 276 people on that ship and they all ate.

The next morning as they tried to get the ship to the shore, they ran into some big problems, and the ship broke, just as Paul’s prediction from the angel had said. The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners rather than let them get away, but the man in charge of the soldiers wanted to save Paul and all of the other prisoners. He ordered those who could swim to jump into the water and head for the land, and the others followed, holding on to the pieces of the boat. And they all got to land safely.

Life was not perfect after that but they had survived the storm.

Everyone’s storm is different right now. We are not in the same boat. My husband and I are in our 60’s and I would like to believe we will survive this storm but I don’t know. But then, were there ever any guarantees? No. It just feels like now we know for sure how unsure things can be. Some of us have jumped overboard and grabbed a piece of wood to try to get to shore. Some of us feel like we are just hanging on for dear life. Some of us got into a lifeboat and are rowing our way to land.

The God who first gave you life continues to wrap a Life Jacket of hope and security around you in this storm.  Wear the jacket. All will be well.

 

Carol Duerksen is a freelance writer and editor, and on staff of Springs Forth! Faith Formation, Inc. which publishes multi-age curriculum online.