As we left Paul and his shipmates, they were in the midst of a terrible winter storm in the Adriatic. Before the ship wrecks, Paul has one last word of encouragement for them:
Since many were going without food, Paul stood up among them and said, “You men should have followed my advice not to sail from Crete and sustain this damage and loss. Now I urge you to take courage, because there will be no loss of any of your lives, but only of the ship. For this night an angel of the God I belong to and serve stood by me, saying, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul. You must stand before Caesar. And, look! God has graciously given you all those who are sailing with you.’ Therefore, take courage, men, because I believe God that it will be just the way it was told to me. However, we must run aground on a certain island.” (Acts 27:21-26, HCSB)
At first glance this seems to be a justification for telling someone “I told you so!” But really it is a discussion of God’s grace. You and I, though we would like to think of ourselves as Paul in this story are more often like the Roman sailors. We don’t have a clue what’s going on in the spiritual realm around us, but God still showers us with his grace. Paul teaches us a couple key elements of grace in this brief pep talk:
Grace doesn’t remove consequences. The men really should have listened to Paul in the first place and the problems they were in could have been avoided. Nevertheless, they didn’t, so they’re about to be in a world of hurt. When we sin, there are consequence that go with it. We can still experience God’s grace, but very often the consequences remain.
There are angels around us we don’t know about. God lives in a realm invisible to our physical eyes…that doesn’t make it any less real. It just means that sometimes God’s grace surprises us.
God has bigger plans. To the sailors and probably even Paul, the biggest event in the world at that moment was the storm that was wrecking their ship. But the angel who appeared to Paul reminded him that there was something even bigger. God wanted Paul in front of Caesar. Therefore, the shipwreck wouldn’t be the end. God had other plans for the future and Paul would make it to Rome. Whatever you’re going through now…God has even bigger plans for you down the line. So hang on.
It is good to be connected to godly people. The sailors were spared because of grace, but also because they were connected to Paul. Sometimes God’s grace is experienced through someone else…a spouse, a child, a friend. My wife was a bit down last night and our son called from out of state…God’s grace.
Grace gives courage. God’s promise of grace gave Paul courage to face the storm. You can count on grace for whatever storm you’re in, too.
So take courage, friends, and let’s look for God’s grace together.