27 When the fourteenth night came, we were drifting in the Adriatic Sea, and in the middle of the night the sailors thought they were approaching land. 28 They took a sounding and found it to be 120 feet deep; when they had sailed a little farther and sounded again, they found it to be 90 feet deep. 29 Then, fearing we might run aground in some rocky place, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight to come.
30 Some sailors tried to escape from the ship; they had let down the skiff into the sea, pretending that they were going to put out anchors from the bow. 31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 Then the soldiers cut the ropes holding the skiff and let it drop away.
33 When it was about daylight, Paul urged them all to take food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have been waiting and going without food, having eaten nothing. 34 Therefore I urge you to take some food. For this has to do with your survival, since none of you will lose a hair from your head.” 35 After he said these things and had taken some bread, he gave thanks to God in the presence of all of them, and when he broke it, he began to eat. 36 They all became encouraged and took food themselves. 37 In all there were 276 of us on the ship. 38 When they had eaten enough, they began to lighten the ship by throwing the grain overboard into the sea.
39 When daylight came, they did not recognize the land but sighted a bay with a beach. They planned to run the ship ashore if they could. 40 After casting off the anchors, they left them in the sea, at the same time loosening the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and headed for the beach. 41 But they struck a sandbar and ran the ship aground. The bow jammed fast and remained immovable, while the stern began to break up by the pounding of the waves.
42 The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners so that no one could swim away and escape. 43 But the centurion kept them from carrying out their plan because he wanted to save Paul, so he ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. 44 The rest were to follow, some on planks and some on debris from the ship. In this way, everyone safely reached the shore.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
But the centurion kept them from carrying out their plan because he wanted to save Paul, so he ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land.
This story reads like a scene from a movie script and has all the adventure of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Except this isn’t about a fictitious character named Captain Jack. This is about a real man named Paul. And he was quite a character.
Read it again and picture the scene. These seasoned soldiers and sailors are facing a catastrophic storm at sea and the captain is convinced they are about to meet their doom. And all of this horrific risk was for the sake of some preacher of “The Way” who was causing a stir everywhere he went. It would be a shame to lose these men for the sake of this guy, right?
But Paul wasn’t just a guy. He was God’s man.
If you pay attention to what the Centurion does, you can get the idea that Paul had already had a profound effect on this man. Perhaps the veteran soldier had taken a shift chained next to Paul in the Roman jail. Maybe he had talked to Paul on the ship or knew of him some other way. Or just maybe his cousin ran a certain jail down in Philippi and he knew what happened one time when Paul sang at midnight.
Whatever the reason, this man knew Paul was the key to the survival of his crew.
Think about where you work and live and the people that run in the patterns of your life. What do they know about you? How much do they know of your values and faith? And, have they ever heard you sing in the dark moments of your life?
In these uncertain days—a struggling economy, a culture so addicted to sex and promiscuity that anything goes no matter who is destroyed, a growing hatred between races and religions—one can quickly see that this world is in a catastrophic storm and our survival is in question.
The institutions that have sustained us are much like the ship in this story—breaking up. And the ones paying attention are looking for a person like Paul who has a faith system and a core belief that can weather storms like this.
I’ve heard our pastor, Mike Glenn, say something like this, “Don’t complain that the place where you work is dark, because if you’re a Christian, you’re the light in that place! And light doesn’t complain about darkness. It shines!”
In the same way, we shouldn’t just look at the storms in our culture and complain about being on a ship that is breaking up. No, our faith in the Sovereign God we serve causes us to look beyond the waves and understand that God wants to use us in these perilous times to bring hope to the hopeless—to be that one person that can speak peace into the chaos.
May the world in which you live, see the difference one person can make.
- What are some of the storms being faced by people where you work and live?
- What are some ways you can speak into the chaos around you and point to the safety only found in trusting Christ?
- Have you ever “sung at midnight?” Or shared your hope in Christ despite personal challenges?
- Ask the Lord to make you a person that others would see as having and being hope despite the raging storms in today’s world.