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Ready for Shipwreck and Salvation

Acts 27:33-38
Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. 'For the last fourteen days,' he said, 'you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food – you haven't eaten anything. Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.' After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. Altogether there were 276 of us on board. When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea. (NIVUK)

276 people on board the ship taking Paul to Rome, were preparing for shipwreck. Strong ropes held the ship's stern to four anchors, preventing a night-time foundering onto an unknown shore (Acts 27:29); but the people were weak from lack of food and they had no more energy to do anything to save the ship. Strangely, when all hope had been lost (Acts 27:20), Paul became the morale-boosting, strategic leader. God had spoken to him about the ship being lost but the people being saved (Acts 27:21-26), and everybody trusted what he said. His calm assured voice and confidence about the future was very encouraging for everybody.

In the middle of the night, above the noise of the wind and crashing waves, Paul spoke. He acknowledged the personal strain on everybody over the previous two weeks, the undoubted seasickness and nauseous revulsion of even the thought of food. But they now needed to have enough energy to get to shore safely. Paul promised that everybody would be saved, because God had told him so.

Paul's example in eating bread was preceded by the apostle giving thanks to God for the deliverance they would experience. Soon everybody was eating until they were full. As their strength returned they had enough energy to continue to lighten the ship, heaving overboard the remaining sacks of grain to make the vessel more buoyant. Then they were ready for the strange combination of daylight, shipwreck and salvation.

Although we might like to have everything just as we have planned, the Lord longs most for our salvation and fusion into His purposes. The Lord may allow a cascade of disasters so that we despair of ourselves and learn to trust His Word. But He still loves us and wants to bring us through safely. There is a lot we may have to leave behind, but what is ahead matters more (Philippians 3:13-14). Whatever is lost will never be important for following Jesus in the way He has chosen. So, take heart; get ready for the transition and allow the Lord to bring you safely through it. As you do, do not pray in complaint, but in praise – thanking God for whatever He is about to do.

Lord God Almighty. Thank You that You know how to deliver Your people who trust in You. Forgive me for my despair and fear when all my plans look like being shipwrecked. Please help me to trust what You have said, and expect You to act in accordance with Your character - leading me more into the purposes of Jesus, while stripping away all that needs to be left behind. And help me to praise You for what You will do. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams