As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure. When the men had hoisted it aboard, they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together. Fearing that they would run aground on the sandbars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and let the ship be driven along. We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved. (Acts 27:16-20, NIV)
Two weeks ago we left Paul on a ship headed to Rome just as a storm arose. Those on board would eventually survive with God’s help. Any time we go through a storm in life we should turn to God first (as Paul did, 27:10). But there are some other things you and I can do to help make it through. Let me make a few suggestions:
1. Don’t abandon ship (16). It’s tempting to think the grass is greener elsewhere…declare bankruptcy, leave the marriage, quit the job, leave the church…but spiritual storms will follow you to your greener pastures, I promise, and things will likely be much worse. So pull up the lifeboat and weather the storm!
2. Make sure your anchor is firm (17). That anchor, according to Hebrews 6:19 is Jesus and our relationship with him, the firm foundation of his promises and his word to see you through.
3. Get rid of your baggage (18). Oftentimes the storms we face are of our own making – carrying with us sins or hurts from our past – things we’ve never let Jesus heal for us – and then having those affect our present. Toss it overboard / take it to the foot of the cross. It’s not helping…
4. Look for anything else you need to discard in life (19). The author of Hebrews describes “throwing off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…” Sometime it can be even good or neutral things that ca hold us back and weigh us down. Sometimes God wants to lead us in a new direction. So ask him…
5. Finally, DON’T give up hope (20). Those on this ship did, but they weren’t Christians. Paul, who knew Jesus and had a prophetic promise from God, did not give up. But after doing what he could do, he ultimately trusted God with the outcome.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. (Matthew 7:24-25, NIV)