In worship this summer, we have been following the adventures of Paul in the Book of Acts.
This past week we read Acts 27 where Paul survives a shipwreck and we found it to be a most inspiring testimony of faith.
The trip is a nightmare.
The weather is terrible, no one will listen to Paul’s guidance to wait and as soon as they head out, they are blown off course.
Imagine over two weeks floating in stormy waters, unable to see the sun or stars.
Imagine watching as first the cargo and then the rigging for navigation are thrown overboard.
Imagine not eating for two weeks because they have no idea how long the journey will last.
Just like Paul, we are often tossed about on the storms of life.
And just like Paul, we have faith in God’s future for us, even if we don’t know what the immediate future might hold.
Paul knows he will get to Rome, he just can’t see the way there.
He doesn’t understand how a ship lost in a storm could take him to the place God has called him to be, but he does have faith that God will get him there.
So too, we know where God is calling us to be, we just don’t always understand what the path will look like, or what the journey will hold.
In the voyage at sea, the crew of the ship loses all means of navigation.
They throw their tackle overboard so they cannot steer the ship.
And in the midst of the storm, they cannot see the sun or stars so they have no idea which direction to head in anyway.
They are completely lost and without guidance. But they do have Paul, and Paul has his faith in God.
The crew leans on Paul and his faith.
Julius the centurion encourages everyone to trust in what Paul has to say.
Paul is guided by a higher power, and he promises to keep the crew safe if everyone simply follows his directions and trusts in his faith.
So too, in our own lives, sometimes we can’t do it alone.
When the storms get really rough, when the way becomes nothing but unknown darkness, sometimes we have to rely on the faith of others to see us through.
If we can’t muster enough faith of our own, we can fall back on the faith of the church community to help us through our dark days.
Paul’s faith kept everyone on the ship safe and alive.
So too, our faith can be a beacon for others. Or, when we are low, we can hang on to the faith of others to help us through life’s storms.
The story of Paul in Acts is a reminder that God never promises us an easy road.
From the moment he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul has been suffering for his faith.
God has led him to conflict with religion and government.
God has rescued Paul from mobs seeking to lynch him in the street for the gospel message that he preaches.
And now, God sends Paul to Rome via a shipwreck.
The amazing thing about Paul is that even though life with God is so very very hard, he continues to give thanks.
He continues to worship; he continues to have faith; he continues to trust; and he continues to lead others to the way of salvation.
Paul’s faith in God is truly amazing, and it is an inspiration for all of us.
God does not promise us a life of ease and pleasure, but God does promise to be there with us when the storms of life threaten to overtake our ship.
And on the days when we can’t do it, on the days when we struggle to muster faith in the midst of hardship, God sends us a Paul.
God sends us a friend whose hand we can hold, who will help guide us through until we land on safer shores.
May God be with all of us in the midst of the struggles of this life.
And may we have faith for whatever journey lies ahead.