And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.” Acts 27:10-11 KJV

Paul had been arrested in Jerusalem and from the course of events that followed, it seemed he wouldn’t be granted justice by the Jews, so he appealed to Caesar in Rome. Acts 27 is one of the chapters detailing his journey to Italy. At a place called the Fair Havens (verse 8), Paul gave an advice based on his ‘perception’ that three things (see Bible text above) were at risk of hurt and damage should the journey continue on the planned path:

1. The lading – “something carried, that is, the cargo of a ship” Strong’s;
2. The ship;
3. Their lives.

The centurion ignored Paul’s counsel. My ‘slightly dramatic’ imagination pictures him rolling his eyes and thinking: “Dude, you’re just a controversial preacher of a man you claimed was dead but is now alive, not an expert in matters of travel/ship affairs. Keep your unsolicited advice to yourself!” Then he turns to the ‘expert’ in ship affairs and goes: “Shall we?” 🙃

Scripture gave us no record of Paul trying to argue or enforce his opinion, he simply let it be. The immediate natural circumstance didn’t help either, as the wind blew softly (verse 13). I reckon the Centurion thought: “Boohoo Mister Paul, how about your perception now, uh?” (If he felt petty 🤣) BUT

And not much after, a stormy wind being called Euroclydon beat down on it. And the ship being seized, and not being able to beat against the wind, giving way we were borne along.” Verses 14-15 LITV

One definition of storms suitable for our context is as follows: “disturbance of the normal condition of the atmosphere, manifesting itself by winds of unusual force or direction, often accompanied by rain, snow, hail, thunder, and lightning, or flying sand or dust.”

The outcome of the storm:
1. Loss of cargo (verse 38);
2. Loss of the ship (verse 41);
3. Near loss of lives but for divine intervention through an angelic visitation (verses 23-25)

Pretty much what Paul had warned them about, in addition to the by force fourteen days fast (verses 33-38) they had to undergo, the perpetual darkness and fear (verses 29) etc.

As believers, it is certain that ‘storms’ – disturbances to our normal/challenges would come our way. Whilst some are resultant from our choices, others may be consequences of living in a fallen world, the enemy contending against us, consequences of other people’s decision etc. However, there are many storms that are avoidable; we would not have to face them AT ALL if we would just learn to depend on God, via staying attuned to the promptings of the Holy Spirit within us, concerning decisions that would affect the course of our lives and OBEYING HIM! Failure to do so could lead to storms and result in losses, similar to or worse than that experienced by Paul and others in Acts 27, totally avoidable.

The Lord Jesus promised believers the perpetual presence of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16), one of the purposes of which He is to guide and show us things to come (John 16:13). We see clearly that promise being fulfilled in the life of Paul in our Bible text. The Holy Spirit, through the perception He gave Paul, was trying to guide Paul (Jesus’ sheep; John 10:27) and consequently all aboard the ship, away from danger when the natural circumstances didn’t really look otherwise. Had they listened, they would have avoided the storm and the accompanying consequences altogether.

The next time you’re about to take a decision/ make a move and you have a hesitation in your innermost self, I.e. your spirit, please hold on, take some time out to seek God, to determine if He agrees with your taking such step – you’ll know He doesn’t if your spirit keeps getting agitated or some fear seems to arise, and you’ll know He does if a deep, calming peace accompanies you, which depicts His presence in such (John 14:27).

This post by no means aims to belittle the need for expertise; I believe in excellence and would always want the best person for a job, all things being equal. The post aims to stir and/or strengthen within us a desire to be led by and continuously dependent on the Holy Spirit concerning EVERY SINGLE DECISION of our lives, because God sees the whole picture in multi-dimension, whereas we can’t and/or do not! We may choose to go against God and things may work out fine initially (it did in our study chapter), but not for long. Yet again, we can’t determine the expiry date of the consequences of disobeying God, nor the extent of the knock-on effect such choice/decision would bring along. Simply put, let’s stick with God and we’ll be fine.

God bless you 😀
© Lydia Ndagilaya for PneumaWord

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