Thursday, October 19, 2006

Acts 27:27-44

The story continues, and the drama is heightened. It is dark at night with everyone adrift on the ocean when they realize they are nearing land. The possibility is very real that they will strike rocks and all will be lost. Realizing the immediate danger, the sailors seek to desert the ship, leaving Paul and the prisoners to perish. It doesn’t look good…

Paul, however, is able to persuade the men to stay, and actually to encourage them so they are ready to meet the demands of landing the ship in the day ahead. Day breaks and they spy land, not familiar land, but good land, land with the calm waters of a bay and the sure landing of a beach. Things are looking up…

We root for our heroes to make it shore… but no, they hit a hidden reef and the ship catches there. The waves pound the ship, and it begins to break up. Paul is in big trouble now!

It gets worse. The guards, wishing to do their duty and ensure that no prisoners escape, plan to kill them all—Paul included. Is this the end?

No. The centurion intervenes. Once again Paul seems to cheat death. People jump over board and begin swimming to shore. Those who can’t swim grab planks splintered off from the sinking ship…

And today, at least, everybody lives! The assurance God gave Paul that all will be well (my paraphrase) for that day, at least, turns out to be well founded. Everybody lives!

We, of course, do not simply see fate at work here. We see the hand of God.

And I, at least, am encouraged. Life takes lots of twists and turns, some good and some seemingly not. Some are expected and some catch us totally unaware. Sometimes it looks like we’ve come to the end only to find a new way ahead.

But in all these things, God is near at hand, accomplishing His plans and purposes which are unable to be thwarted by whatever adversity arises. That, friends, is very good news—part of a larger story that much like this one, has a happy end!

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