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Surviving Shipwrecks

Surviving Shipwrecks
   The Gospels end with Jesus Christ commissioning the disciples to share worldwide the “Good News” about His life, death, burial, and resurrection. Christ promised that He would be with them until the end of the age. As we learn in Acts, the disciples, emboldened by the Spirit, indeed persistently shared the gospel. We are here today because each generation strives to get the Jesus message out.
   Thankfully, Scripture provides examples of the message going worldwide, despite challenges! The Lord wanted Paul to go and share the “Good News” to the Romans. This was a 1,810 mile trip from Caesarea, Israel. Back in the fall of AD 60, this sailing journey took around 24 days.
   Luke, the objective doctor and Paul’s traveling colleague, captured the chaotic storm they encountered. Luke used dramatic words: “violently storm tossed,” being “driven” by the sea, and “all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned” (Acts 27:17-20 ESV).
   The seasoned sailors struggled with this storm for over two weeks. No sun, moon, or stars appeared (v. 20). All were in the dark with the rolling sea. Despite their best efforts, including throwing the cargo overboard, nothing was helping (v. 18). Emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually these exhausted, fearful men were wrung out.
   Let’s get ourselves into the story. Feel the fear, the drenching storm; hear the yelling as our crew fights against the furious sea. Sense the anxiety, dread, and hopelessness. See the images of our lives flash before us as we desperately try to survive another few minutes in the chaos.
   Then, in the midst of this, hear Paul saying, “‘Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before 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 Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.” So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on some island’” (Acts 27:22-26).
   These amazing words of comfort bring hope to all on board. God, the Creator, the Sustainer of the Universe, promised life through this deathlike struggle. As they lived to tell the tale, so will we! Remember shipwrecks can happen even when we are living biblically and doing what God has called us to do! And, if God brings you to it, He will bring you through it. As Billy Graham once stated, “Faith points us beyond our problems to the hope we have in Christ” (The Journey).
-Rebecca Logan is a Retired UPMC Chaplain and member of Lycoming Valley Baptist Church

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