by Impact Church
And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land. Acts 27:44
One of the great perplexities of life is the close proximity and integration of the redeemed wise and the unredeemed foolish. This isn’t intended to promote superiority of the redeemed over the unredeemed through some sense of self righteous indignation or impending vengeance; but rather gives rise to the inevitable consequences of living alongside two polar opposites. And nothing speaks more clearly of this dynamic than, “we’re in the world, but not of it”. And it’s from that reference and tension that all believers exist. The temporal and eternal coexists for a time; one demographic driven blindly by sight through vanity, the other by faith through the knowledge of the unseen.
The sea voyage of Acts 27 took the Apostle Paul to Rome; where his death most likely ensued. However, the shipwreck en route to his martyrdom is filled with uncanny, present-day, practical advice. Far too much is detailed in that single chapter to assume it’s relegated to history. And there’s far too much inscribed minutiae for it to be a mere description of tragedy and daring rescue, or a dutiful remembrance of a persevering servant of Christ. Undoubtedly, and for our sake, Paul’s journey towards his final resting place is recorded so that the divine wisdom he exercised be ours in our 21st century turbulence and unexpected storms.
Our hope is to extract diverse wisdom as it’s revealed from this chapter, and have a series of devotionals drawn from its experiences. We will then dedicate them to those who’re journeying towards their final home with others who’re not quite so sure! Folks, this could be interesting!
Consider then first the mingled assortment comprising the 276 men on board! Prisoners, ship mates, ship owners, soldiers, Christian, Jew, heathen men, men of color, men of disrepute, men of substance, men of power, men with vast sea knowledge, men with little hope, men with a lot on the line… You get the picture! It’s a gated community for sure– you can’t get on board, and you can’t get off! And that becomes the first point we gather from this chapter.
We’re born into a world, not of our choosing, but of providence and God’s sovereignty. We’re born into a family of which we didn’t choose. As a child, we live in a community we didn’t necessarily ask for. We attend a school from which we weren’t offered another option. We’re connected to a diverse group of people, and we’re stuck with them for long periods of time. We can’t just jump to another planet and do something different! Though that thought has oft crossed our minds!
Maybe we’re associated with professional groups, business ties, or social and recreational reasons. Maybe we’re integrated through marriage, grandparent obligations, child care commitments, child support demands, or burdensome connections to the legal or court system. All these connections confine us to obligations and expectations. And oftentimes those associations are not spiritual or unilaterally harmonious! And as much sometimes as we’d like to be free from them, they’re always there- pervasive, and at times, provocative!
But does God care when our connections are not of our choosing, but are part of our responsibility? Absolutely! Is there divine wisdom available for those who love God and love people, but do life with those who’re not so like minded? Yes, He does! Can God use us in imperfect settings, though we know there’ll be a cross to bear for this to work? Another profound, yes!
So what can we gather from Paul’s assortment of ship mates, their innumerable purposes, and their diverse destinies? We’ll begin with the old adage- We’re all in this thing together! We sure didn’t choose this boat, but we’re on it! And God is going to get glory while we ride! This is life, and God is able to make His grace to abound in every conceivable setting of it!
WISDOM POINT #1: The ship you’re on may not be the one you’d choose, but it’s still your boat! Acts 27:37
See you next month for Acts 27, wisdom for the journey, point #2!