“Men,” he said, “I believe there is trouble ahead if we go on—shipwreck, loss of cargo, and danger to our lives as well.” But the officer in charge of the prisoners listened more to the ship’s captain and the owner than to Paul. (Acts 27:10-11)
Relate: If I were to list the top ten empires in the history of mankind, I would probably put Rome in at the number two spot. For greatness and longevity they would take the top billing but what Temujin was able to do and the sheer scope of what he accomplished slides his Mongols in the lead overall. One area that Temujin didn’t even come close to matching Rome was in infrastructure. Where the Mongols conquered the world and slaughtered all opposition with impunity, the Romans tamed the world. So you want to build a city here but there’s no water? No problem. Lets just build an aqueduct fifty feet high and ten feet wide than spans for miles. No stones to build it? No problem. We’ll cart them in from that place over there two hundred miles away. No road to transport them? Then lets build one. Problem solved. Centuries later, the city might not be there, but that aqueduct and road will still be functioning like the day they were built. Nothing stopped Rome when it put it’s mind to a task.
That “nothing” included the transport of a prisoner who has appealed to Caesar. Even though what should have been a simple, easy trip proved to be anything but, no weather can stop Roman willpower. Murphy’s Law does not trump Roman jurisprudence. Case in point:
Acts 27:4 – The plan was to head straight west from Sidon but the winds weren’t cooperating. No problem, we’ll head north instead.
Acts 27:5 – Twice the captain wanted to port, but the winds prevented him from working his way into the harbors of Cilicia and Pamphylia.
27:6 – The first captain throws in the towel when he is finally able to reach the port at Myra. He would go no further. No problem. The captain just finds himself another ship and keeps going.
27:7 – What should have been a few hour hop over to Cnidus ended up taking several days. Continuing north wasn’t an option. We’ll try south this time. On to the cape of Salmone on the island of Crete.
27:8 – They limped along the southern side of the island until they finally reached Fair Havens. It is here that Paul warns against going any further. I can almost picture the officer puffing up his chest as he replies, “We’re Romans. We don’t quit, we don’t give up, on to Phoenix.”
27:14 – Or not. It doesn’t matter that Phoenix was only a couple miles from Fair Havens. A storm strikes and they find themselves forced southward and away from Crete.
27:16 – They pass by the Island of Cauda and even though there is no port here where they can dock, the lee of the island does cut the wind enough that they can ready the ship for the storm… or so they thought.
27:17 – At this point they had been forced so far south they were afraid of running into the sandbars on the coast of Africa. So they drop anchor and try to ride out the storm in the open sea.
27:18 – The winds continue to push against the anchor so they start throwing stuff overboard.
27:19 – Important stuff
27:20 – This storm has covered sun moon and stars for days. They have no idea where they are. All hope, even fierce Roman pride and determination is lost. Rome is powerless against an act of God.
React: The Romans thought they were in control. They thought they had conquered the world. Good luck with that. They couldn’t even successfully navigate a short jaunt across their own sea. They refused to listen to advice, insisting they can do it their own way. Sounds like I would fit right in with them. It is so easy to try to do things my own way. But if my way contradicts God’s will it seems like one storm after another just keeps me from getting anywhere. Perhaps its time I give up trying to do it my own way and let Him take control.
God, I give You control once again. I know that in reality You have had it all the time, but I’m tired of my illusions of control. I’m tired of my illusions that I can ever accomplish anything of significance on my own. I need You. Help me to get out of the way. Rather than trying to fight You, help me to follow