“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. And since Fair Havens was an exposed harbor—a poor place to spend the winter—most of the crew wanted to go on to Phoenix, farther up the coast of Crete, and spend the winter there.
Relate: I have never been to Kaloi Limines. It looks beautiful and perhaps someday I might get the opportunity to visit Crete and check out this beach made famous by this reference in Acts. You see, Kaloi Limines is the location of Fair Havens. I’ve looked at a few pictures and I would have to agree with the captain and shipowner. This doesn’t look like a very good harbor. In contrast, right now I am sipping coffee from the second floor of a Starbucks just a block south of what is obviously a very good harbor. Here are a couple photos I took during dinner yesterday about a half mile from here. Now look at these photos of Iskenderun and compare them with the title picture which shows us Fair Havens. Which one looks like the better harbor to you? To me, the place I am at does, but I have to admit I am not a trained professional in any nautical field. I am basing my opinion on three things: 1) There are lots of boats lined up at Iskenderun. Just one at Fair Havens. 2) They built a whole bunch of piers at Iskenderun (one of which makes for a great vantage point for both sunrises and sunsets). There are none at Fair Havens. 3) The very name Iskenderun means Alexander’s. That guy had a habit of building cities everywhere there was a good river or seaport.
Did you notice that my criteria all have nothing to do with weather patterns, geography, sea tides, or anything at all that any reasonable sailor in Paul’s time would look for? Honestly, I don’t even know what those things would be. I simply trust the professionals. A bunch of modern sea captains park their boats in Iskendurun, they must know what they are doing. They have built up all these piers to accommodate boats. There must be a reason to do so. Alexander had some logistics guys with him who would have told him,
“This is a good place to build a harbor and fortification.”
“Great. Get to it.”
“What shall we name the place.”
(Alexander gives the death stare.)
“OK, nevermind, that was a dumb question.”
React: Paul is a prisoner. He is being transported along with a bunch of other prisoners to Rome where he might face justice. The boat he is being transported on is actually a merchant, not a military ship and the ship’s captain and owner both don’t want to hang around in their current harbor once winter sets in. But Paul sends a message to the head of his guard detail, “This is a good spot to winter. We should stay here.” Forget the 20/20 vision we have of hindsight and knowledge of who Paul is. If you were that officer, who would you listen to, the captain or the convict?
There have been more than a few times in my life when people have asked me, “What are you thinking?” I have asked myself that ten times for every one time someone else offered to intervene with a little “sense and reason”. There are a hundred and one reasons why I should do this instead of that. There is only one reason why I should do that instead of this. God has called me to it.
It doesn’t make sense to give up a comfortable job with good pay to go shooting off to the north of nowhere to help a church that said right up front, “We can’t pay you anything.” It doesn’t make sense to load up everything you own into a car and head halfway across the country when you aren’t even going for a job, but just an interview. It definitely doesn’t make sense to leave a newborn yet thriving new church, pairing everything you own down to a hundred pounds of baggage, and getting a one-way ticket to head for a “hot zone” knowing nothing of what will happen to you on the other side.
It is much safer to trust the professionals. It is much easier to follow the voice of reason. But that isn’t living. Don’t listen to those voices. If you do, you will never realize the life God has in store for you. If God has called you toward the crazy, it only makes sense to follow Him.
When You have called me out, help me to step. I know that every single time I have followed You in the past, You have been faithful. But that doesn’t always help for the now. When You urge me to step out today, there are a hundred and one voices telling me why I shouldn’t. God, silence those doubts and fears and even well-meaning friends who simply do not understand. You have called and it only makes sense for me to follow. Help me to have the faith to remember that You are always faithful to me.