Paul then stood up among them and said, "Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and thereby avoided this damage and loss. I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.' So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we will have to run aground on some island.
I grew up in Wrangell, as a commercial fisherman’s daughter. When I read Paul’s account of the storm at Sea, I can’t help but be brought to the deck of my dad’s boat and I can literally feel the longing for land that I imagine these men experiencing. It takes me back to the salt on my skin, my hair thick with slime and lack of a shower, and that seasick pit in my stomach threatening to make me heave. There have been a handful of times in my life where I have found myself in a literal Storm at Sea. When those waves get too big for comfort and I suggest the Captain cruise just a bit closer to shore. Fists clenched as I gauge how close we would need to be for me to be able to swim to the beach and recite silent prayers in my head.
When Paul addresses his shipmates with a promise of hope, I can only imagine their sense of relief when he shares that God has brought a message that guaranteed no loss of life. I know that in my moments of fear, I would have welcomed this promise! God’s promise surely brought a ray of light that these shipmates so desperately needed. For me, this passage brings the reminder that God’s encouragement is all around us.
So many of us are experiencing a storm right now. How do we find this encouragement from God in our lives? How do we share this encouragement with others who may so desperately be needing it? For me, having to socially distance makes this harder…or maybe I use it as an “easy out” in my already busy life. This passage has me thinking of the creative ways that I can still reach out and share God’s message of hope. I’ll be doing some reaching out today.