“When morning dawned, they didn’t recognize the coastline, but they saw a bay with a beach and wondered if they could get to shore by running the ship aground. So they cut off the anchors and left them in the sea. Then they lowered the rudders, raised the foresail, and headed toward shore. But they hit a shoal and ran the ship aground too soon. The bow of the ship stuck fast, while the stern was repeatedly smashed by the force of the waves and began to break apart. The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners to make sure they didn’t swim ashore and escape. But the commanding officer wanted to spare Paul, so he didn’t let them carry out their plan. Then he ordered all who could swim to jump overboard first and make for land. The others held on to planks or debris from the broken ship. So everyone escaped safely to shore.”
(Acts of the Apostles 27:39-44 NLT)
The daybreak brought sight of shore. The crew hoisted the sail and set the rudder to let the wind drive the ship toward the beach. Their apparent thought was to run aground in the softer sand of the bay. However, a shoal (unseen beneath the surface) was struck and the front of the ship got stuck. The waves beat vehemently against the back of the ship and broke it apart. The roman soldiers began to contemplate killing the prisoners for fear of their escaping. If prisoners escaped, the Roman soldiers would pay with their lives. In an instant, the Roman commander decided not to harm the prisoners because he wanted Paul kept alive. It appears that Paul had gained the trust and confidence of many on board, if not all of them. In the midst of terrible circumstances, Jesus used Paul to display His character. Can God count on us to do the same or are we wrapped up in our own self preservation. God is looking for those who will portray His likeness to the world around them, even in harsh circumstances.
Lastly, everyone went into the water. Some could swim and apparently others could not, so they grabbed pieces of the ship and perhaps were aided by the crew and Roman soldiers.
It is interesting that the presence of one man of God on a ship of 276 people made all the difference in the world for the rest of the passengers, crew, and soldiers. God wants to display Himself to the world through you as well. Are you available and ready? He's waiting!
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Rev. Curtis Norris