Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Great Storm

Painting By Willem van de Velde the Younger
And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band. 
Acts 27:1 

But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive. 
Acts 27:14-15

Each storm of life often comes without warning to us, but God knew about it long before that first gentle breeze started to blow. The steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord and that includes steps that don't seem to be part of his original plan. Amazingly, God can make even a path the enemy has pushed us on lead to the right destination. We can see from the storm that Paul and his companions went through, many principles of our faith walk.

The first verse says it was determined that we should sail to Italy.  On the surface, Paul played a part in this trip (Acts 26:32), Festus played a part in this trip (Acts 25:12), the owner of the ship even played a part (Acts 27:11).  But God was allowing these things to happen to get Paul where he had already told him he would go.  God sent Paul to Rome to witness to Caesar.

Paul, was close to the Lord, and he knew a storm was coming.  He even tried to warn the other crew members (Acts 27:10).  He didn't know how bad the storm would get.  What seemed to be a small wind, was the beginning of a hurricane.  The biggest life-storm can start with the smallest breeze.

"And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive" (Acts 27:15).  When you're in the storm you go the direction the storm takes you.  You remember that you are not in control.  The sailors also started throwing things overboard to lighten the ship (Acts 27:18-19).  The storm will shake things loose from your life.  You might lose family, friends, finances, pride, anger and other things.  It may feel like you're loosing the good with the bad, but God is loosing you from these things, purifying you, and making you more like him.

This storm was rough, dark and long (Acts 27:20, Acts 27:33).  Life-storms will cause everything to spin out of control and you'll be in total darkness.  A sea storm of hurricane force, blocking the sun for at least 14 days is enough to make the bravest sailor lose hope.  They did lose hope, but the Apostle Paul was able to endure the storm because he was a man of faith and prayer.  While they despaired of their lives, he was in the presence of the Lord.  Even with everything rocking and reeling around you, you can still get in the presence of the Lord and hear from him.

Verse 29 says they wished for the day.  Some of life's storms make night seem worse.  Depression creeps in with the darkness of night.  Keep meditating on the Word during this time.  Paul told them to eat, while the day was coming on.  After the storm you're going to need to replenish with the Word of God even more.  Don't leave the Word just because things are calming down.  Stay in the Word!

"And when it was day, they knew not the land" (Acts 27:39).  This is why you need to stay in the Word.  When the storm is over and the sun is coming back up, you'll often look around and wonder what beach you've landed on.  You're surroundings will be different after the storm.  Things and people that were once part of your life are no longer there.  Situations have changed.  Life after the storm is a new world, on a new day, with new possibilities.  You're going to need God's direction to navigate through this new terrain.

"For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve" (Acts 27:23).  Confidence in knowing you belong to the God of heaven and earth is the first step to having confidence in the storm.  If you're his child, what can hurt you?  But is there fruit to this confidence?  Paul acknowledged not only that he belonged to God, but that he was serving God.  For it was God who allowed the storm, took him through the storm, and brought him out of the storm, stronger in his faith.  Would he have been able to stand before Caesar if his faith had not been tried in this powerful storm?

Heavenly Father, help me to remember that even in the storms of life I belong to you.  Help me to turn to you first.  When everyone else is panicking be my comfort and strength.  Guide my steps through the storm and lead me in the way everlasting.  Amen.

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