What is it about ships? While I did choose the two books that I most recently read (and am reading), I did not pick them because of a common theme. In his first book of fiction, The Stranger in the Lifeboat, Mitch Albom (of Tuesdays with Morrie fame) brings his readers along for the terrifying fight for survival. In his mammoth work, Ship of Gold, Gary Kinder artfully paints with words the experiences of the over 500 people who were traveling on the SS Central America as it sank off the coast of the Carolinas.
As I mentioned, I set out to simply read, not to read about ships and sinkings. Nevertheless, that is exactly the substance of my for-fun reading. What is it about ships?
In keeping with our nautical theme, I am drawn to the historical account that Luke provides in the twenty-seventh chapter of Acts. Because of his appeal to Rome, Paul was traveling to Italy's capital to face trial. While aboard a ship, sailing in the Adriatic Sea, Paul and his traveling companions were tossed and turned for two weeks by a mighty storm. It was bad!
The Roman military personnel (while not Yahweh- or Christ-followers), having seen Paul's unyielding faith, chose to trust him and in doing so cut away their only clear means of survival - the lifeboat. You can discover more details of the ordeal by reading Acts 27. Please do. First, however, I'll detail a bit more. The ship, sometime later, struck a sandbar which meant that they were stranded. And many could not swim.
A Roman soldier's task was to transport each prisoner from Point A (Jerusalem) to Point B (Italy) at all costs, no excuses. A soldier's head, not just his job, was on the line. So, observing their stuck position, the soldiers planned to take justice in their own hands to save their own necks.
After all the chaos of cut anchors, sand-bar crashes, swimming and plank-clinging, something amazing happened that Luke describes with one simple sentence.
All 276 (see 27:37) travelers, free and captive alike, survived just as Paul had promised based on the guarantee from God. God spared those who loved Him as well as those who simply trusted Paul. God rescued the just and the unjust.
Imagine how differently events would have unfolded if Paul gave into fear or the soldiers failed to trust Paul. There would not have been 276 survival stories.
From what sinking ship has God saved you? Whether, at the time, you trusted Him or merely were a recipient of His grace because of someone else's faith, you have a survival story. You have reached land safely.
In Acts, we hear more from only two of the 276 (Paul and Luke). Of the 274 others, we know nothing. That leaves me wondering about their post-survival lives. Did they trust the God of Paul? Did they count lucky stars and go back to life as normal? Only God knows?
What is your post-survival story?
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