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Trusting Without A Lifeboat

Acts 27:27-32
On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land. They took soundings and found that the water was forty metres deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was thirty metres deep. Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, 'Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.' So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it drift away. (NIVUK)

For two weeks, Paul's ship, with 276 people on board (Acts 27:37), was battered by huge seas, unrelenting wind and a dark, threatening sky. All strength was gone, nobody felt like eating and they despaired of their lives (Acts 27:20). But the Lord spoke to Paul one night, assuring him that although the ship would be lost, everybody would make it safely to land. So, Paul told the passengers, crew, prisoners and soldiers. They all listened to his rebuke for leaving a safe harbour and prepared themselves to run aground (Acts 27:26).

It was night time as the water got shallower and they anticipated the worst of all scenarios: shipwreck on a lee shore amid rolling breakers over rocks in the dark. The sailors decided to slow the boat's deadly progress by setting four heavy anchors from the stern. Some of the sailors decided to jump ship in the lifeboat for their own safety. But Paul spotted the boat suspended overboard on ropes. He told the centurion that unless everybody stayed on board, everybody might lose their lives. So, Julius (Acts 27:1) ordered his soldiers to cut the ropes holding the boat. It fell away into the sea.

There was now no means of escape. Either Paul was right (he had correctly heard from the real powerful God who keeps His promises) and they would all be saved; or Paul was wrong, his God was useless and they would all drown. Whether they trusted, or not, they had no option but to be obedient. Their future was in God's hands.

There are times when we find ourselves in an impossible situation, sometimes through our own fault, or through the fault of others. There seems no safe way forward and no safe way back. We look around for a chance to escape the dilemma, something which offers security; and then the Lord makes it clear that we must trust in Him alone. Even our friends think we are foolish. But we know that the Lord is able to deliver, He is wise beyond anything we can imagine and He has ultimate power to see us through. So, either we despair, trust ourselves, or trust the Lord without a 'lifeboat' to save us. In His grace, He encourages us to obey, trust and see what great thing He will do.

God of all power. Thank You for those occasions when You give me no option except to trust You without a 'lifeboat' in sight. Forgive me for often preferring to trust something or someone I know, that they can be my substitute saviour. Please help me to understand that You are still in command of the 'wind and waves' and know how to deliver Your people who trust in You; then give me the courage to trust and obey. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams