...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.
Paul's sea voyage to Rome was a Travel Channel nightmare. Even with an encouraging onset, it ended in storm and shipwreck. It was not the kind of thing one expected under God's providential direction. But God had purposes, even in this stormy and difficult journey.
The centurion who was in charge of Paul was very generous to this "religious" prisoner, granting him shore leave in Sidon (Acts 25:3). He arranged for a large commercial transport for Paul and his cargo of prisoners bound for Rome (Acts 27:6 and 27:37). He and his men eventually listened to the advice of Paul when it looked most dangerous (Acts 27:42-44) and did not kill any of the prisoners when it looked like escape was most possible.
God confirmed all this by providence and by a special message to Paul. And the apostle was not afraid to share that news with those over him. Paul was concerned for the welfare of the sailors and soldiers who were making this voyage possible. Even though they may not have made the best decisions (sailing the Mediterranean in the stormy winter in a huge cargo ship), Paul could trust in the overarching providence of God to get them through.
Part of faith is living through human interactions. There are some mundane elements to this story: a troop of common Roman soldiers - ubiquitous in the empire, a ship's crew of commercial sailors hauling grain to the heart of the empire, miscellaneous political prisoners being brought to Rome for legal action, and a small group of Christians represented in Paul and his company of traveling companions. Couple this average ensemble cast with the drama of a heavy storm in the tragedy of a shipwreck, and you have the makings of faith challenges and witnesses to the providence of a loving and sovereign God. It is the stuff of our lives that is the rule of God, and it should not take a life-threatening natural disaster to get us to remember this!
- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.