Drop Four Anchors and Pray for Daylight!

In Acts twenty-seven, Luke tells the account of Paul’s journey to Rome to stand trial before Caesar.  Under guard of a centurion named, Julius, the apostle, along with 276 men, set sail on the Mediterranean Sea from Caesarea headed for Rome.  The trip at sea is beset by storms.  Paul advises his fellow travelers, “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also” (Acts 27:10).  But Julius does not heed Paul’s warning, and despite the tempest at sea, they press on. 

Initially, Julius’ decision seems to be right as favorable winds fill their ship’s sails and progress on their journey is achieved.  However, Luke then recounts, “Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the “northeaster,” swept down from the island.  The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along” (27:14-15).  The situation goes from bad to worse.  In order to lighten the ship in an attempt to weather the severe storm, “they began to throw the cargo overboard.  On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands” (27:18-19). 

All attempts by the ship’s sailors to make safe harbor fail.  In total despair, Luke says, “When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved” (27:20).  Paul then speaks the proverbial, “I don’t want to say I told you so, but I told you so,” saying, “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss” (27:20).    The words Paul speaks next are even more startling:

“But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.  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 graciously 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.  Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island”  (27:22-26).

So 276 seafaring travelers will shipwreck but live.  Encouraging news?  I suppose shipwreck is better than death!  Fearing they might run aground on rocks as they near a shore, the sailors “Dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight” (27:29).  In spite of all the efforts to save the ship, they eventually run aground on top of a reef and the waves of the sea batter and bash the ship to pieces. As a result, every passenger either swims to shore on their own or on broken planks from the ship.  “And so it was that all were brought safely to land” (27:44). 

Is not the case that many times we feel like we are lost in the storms of life?  We are tossed and turned by waves of depression, anxiety, and worry.  Like Paul’s traveling companions at sea we feel like we are “dropping four anchors from the stern and praying for daylight!”  We desire a safe harbor and peace from our troubles.  We grow tired and worry of life’s struggles.  God teaches us in Acts 27 that we may experience shipwreck in our lives, but we have eternal life with God, though we might have to “run aground on some island”  (27:26).  So fear not seafaring Christian, God has agreed in Jesus Christ to spare you your life!  God will bring you safely into his eternal arms. The storms may come at night, but God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

–Terry


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