Shipwreck!

Phil Christman

Read: Acts 27:27-44

And so it was that all were brought safely to land. (v. 44)

Rome was like any other worldly power: sometimes useful, often evil, always self-preserving. Here the Roman guards were ready to kill the prisoners rather than let them escape: security first. (Again today, little has changed. After Hurricane Katrina, reports surfaced that hundreds of prisoners held at Angola Prison were abandoned for days without food or water to face rising floodwaters.) If Paul didn’t already know that the state considered him expendable, he did now.

How can a person live under such a decree? And how can others stand alongside those so condemned? Paul shows us how: he considered himself expendable, because he knew that the God who became flesh and died for him did not. The same faith that led him to endanger himself now enabled him to stay calm and helpful among people whose intentions toward him were utterly callous. We aren’t told why the centurion desired to spare Paul’s life (v. 43), but it’s hard to imagine Paul’s consistently wise and useful counsel (vv. 10, 21-26, 31, 33-36) didn’t have something to do with it. Paul so wanted to be useful to God that he was able to avoid the panicked focus on himself that is natural at times like this. This calm, in turn, gave him the perceptiveness to be a source of hope in a desperate situation. —Phil Christman

Prayer: Lord, when we’re trapped, focusing on ourselves feels necessary. Help us remember that we are more important to you than we are to ourselves and free us to focus on you.