Ever feel like your ship is sinking? You can see things aren’t going well, and you all of the sudden have the “every man for himself” urge to hurl yourself overboard or grab the closest lifeboat. I suppose most of us have felt that way at one time or another. Even in the Bible. In fact, the Bible tells us about a few guys who literally tried to abandon ship, and there are a couple of interesting things we can learn to help us overcome when we feel like going overboard.
In Acts 27 we read the account of Paul’s shipwreck adventure. Round about verse 27 we see that the ship’s crew sensed they were approaching land. They began to measure the depth of the water and feared that they would be dashed against the rocks, facing certain death. So they dropped anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. (I’ve always wondered who they were praying to, and why they didn’t pray for the storm to stop). Perhaps, they decided they weren’t going to make it until daylight, so in an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors pretended they were going to let down anchors from the bow planning to make a quick getaway thinking no one would notice. I don’t think they were very subtle when they did this, though. . .
Because it’s pretty obvious everyone noticed when Paul said to the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” (Strong motivation to keep them on the ship). So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall away. Booyah! Sailors stay on ship! Well, at least for a while longer.
Not much later in the story–everyone leaves the ship–well, they didn’t really have much choice since the ship was being pummeled to destruction by the waves. Some had to jump and swim to shore; others used planks or pieces of the ship in order for everyone to reach land safely. So even though it was necessary at this point to leave, we see that it was best for everyone if they stayed longer than they felt comfortable. They needed to weather out the storm with the others on the boat rather than selfishly think of themselves and their own self preservation.
Now let me say straight up, there may be times to abandon a ship. But there are many, many other times when we need to stay and weather the storm.
But what do you do then when everything in you says get off the boat?
You pray–and not just for yourself, but for those who are also being impacted by the circumstances–nothing just affects you
You consider others above yourself
You fight the feeling so that you can think with reason about what is going on
You don’t sneak off and you don’t be deceitful.
You don’t just leave others to die
You trust God to see you through
You don’t go until He says it’s time
In families, in work places, in marriages and in ministries great damage is being done because we become so afraid and overwhelmed that we see escape as the only option, even to the point of hanging others out to dry. We have tossed honor, faithfulness, and commitment overboard for immediately gratification and perceived safety and relief. Just like God saw Paul, the crew, the guards and the other prisoners through to safety, as we trust Him, wait on Him, and follow His instructions, we can see His deliverance first hand in our lives as well. (Kind of reminds me of the verse from yesterday’s post. . . )
Isaiah 40:31 “They that wait upon the Lord, will renew their strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint.”
Isaiah 43:2a “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.”
I pray that your days are filled with smooth sailing, and that if the storms come, and you want to jump ship, that you will have the courage, trust and wisdom to follow God’s direction and timing every step of the way.