Devotion: After the Northeaster
But soon, a tempestous wind, called the Northeaster, struck down from the land. And when the ship was caught, the crew gave way to it and were driven along.
---- Acts 27:14-15
In Acts 27, Paul is a prisoner aboard the Adramyttium, a vessel bound for Rome. After sailing along the coastline of Cilicia and Pamphylia, the Adramyttium and its crew settle in Lycia before embarking on an Alexandrian ship headed for Italy.
The journey began, slowly, with great difficulty. Thick winds forced the crew to dock for a while in a harbour near the city of Lasea. Time passed, and the ship's master grew impatient and prepared to leave; the harbour was not suitable for coming winter. Paul, discerning imminent injury and loss ahead, advised the centurion to wait, but the officer listened to the advice of the vessel's captain instead and prepared the company for departure.
Along the shoreline from Crete, a tempestous wind, the Northeaster, struck down land and sea. It tormented the crew, who, after throwing the tackle overboard in an effor to lighten the vessel's weight, fell into a hopelessness where neither sun nor stars appeared. Rising, Paul admonished them with these words:
'Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred such damage and injury. Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, only of the ship. For this very ight there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and worship,' and he said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. Behold, God has granted you all those who sailed with you.' So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that what has been foretold will stand true. But we must run aground on some island.'
The ship was thrown and tossed by the storm for many nights until it struck a reef and ran aground. Its bow stuck, the stern broken. Caught in the chaos, the soldiers panicked and schemed to kill the prisoners, lest any should swim away and escape. The centurion, however, recognising the righteousness of God in Paul, prevented them from carrying out this plan. He ordered. those who could swim to jump overboard and make for land. To all the rest, he collected planks from the ship on which they could float and be saved. And so it was that all were safely brought to land.
Couching, sputtering-----the crew climbed aboard the island. They had landed on Malta, where the native people showed them unusual kindness by kindling fire and food for a welcome.
In her collection Awaken, Priscilla Shirer writes:
Storms will do that to you sometimes------wash you ashore in unfamiliar places, around unfamiliar people.
---- p. 279
God's sovereignty was not shipwrecked by the storm. His plans were not derailed or thrown off course. His allknowingness had steered Paul to a place ready and desperate for revival.
How long the people on Malta had been crying out, praying to their gods. Maybe wondering if there was a God listening. They could not have known the storm was His instrument of response. For out on the ocean, in what was brimmed with uncertainty, pain and death, Paul was also praying. He had given way to the wind and was driven along, confident in the worship and knowledge to whom he belonged (v14/23).
Malta was not the original destination, but it was where Paul was meant to be. The people on Malta were open and in dire need of ministry. When Paul prayed to God, those on the island who had diseases came and were healed (Acts 28v9). If not for the storm, Paul would not have been in a position to meet and pray for the Maltese islanders.
Does your circumstance now feel like a wild sea? Your situation like a storm? Maybe like Paul, prisoner to men and sea, you have or are currently experiencing loss and uncertainty. My friends, worship and take heart (v22).
Paul understood the majesty of God; his point of reference was the omnipotent, omnipresent Christ. In Hebrews, Paul prayed the peace of God for his fellow believers; that they might live in the convenant of Him who overcame death. Will you pray this prayer with me? Maybe read it through twice? Once, to let the truth of its message rest over you; twice, to ask the lord to bless those you know who may need this promise too.
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with every good thing to do His will. And may He accomplish in us what is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
In John 3:4-8, the mystery of God's grace moving is explained through a parable. 'Consider the wind,' Jesus asks Nicodemus. 'It blows where it wills. You hear its sound, see its movement in the trees, feel its presence in the breeze. But you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of my Spirit.'
Similarly to the Northeaster, arriving unexpected from gentle winds of the south, the Holy Spirit leads the sons and daughters of the Lord into righteousness and truth (Romans 8v14). In the same way Paul reassured his fellow prisoners that what would happen would happen exactly as God revealed, let us share in the comfort of John 16:13. That Jesus has sent his Spirit "to guide us into all truth and declare to us the things that are yet to come."
My friends, I am praying this promise for you ♡ Let it remind us of all the times when God used storms, even the most overbearing, destructive ones, to draw us and all those around us into his divine, miraculous plan.