Have you ever been through a shipwreck?
Recently, with the dramatic wreck of the cruise liner, Costa Concordia, off the coast of Italy, the trauma of such an event was telecast daily into our living rooms. The ship did not go down suddenly, but gradually. If the evacuations had begun immediately, perhaps everyone would have made it. But as it was, dozens obeyed the orders to "not panic" and returned to their quarters, only to be trapped as the liner listed onto it's side.
In the 27th chapter of Acts, Luke describes in vivid details, the harrowing voyage of Paul and his companions--driven by gale-force winds across the Mediterranean Sea. Eventually, the ship is driven into a sandbar off the shore of Malta and battered to pieces by the surf.
Have you ever thought that your life was being driven along like that ship?
Even though the shipwreck was dramatically more violent that the Italian cruise liner, the thing that is incredible is that "everyone reached land in safety" (Acts 27: 44).
The key to survival was that Paul was on board. And Paul, rather than panicking, spent his time in prayer. He had a visitation during the voyage. "Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has given you the lives of all who sail with you.' So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me" (Acts 27: 23-25).
Actually, Paul was also instructed that everyone needed to stay on board together so that everyone could survive. By then, the centurion and his soldiers knew that Paul was the one to follow, so they cut the lifeboats that were being lowered by the crew as a ruse to escape. And when the soldiers planned to kill the prisoners, as was customary to prevent their escape, the centurion prevented that as well.
Perhaps the key to making it through the storms in your life is to seek God's face. Paul followed the instructions of that angel of God and all of them were saved. And his prophetic vision exerted a moral authority that exuded true spiritual leadership.
Have you cried out to God as you are battered by gale-force winds? Have you heard Him speak above the din of the surf? Are you obeying His instructions despite all opposition?