Our Ladies' Bible study just finished Acts 27, the story of Paul's ship wreck on his way to Rome. I loved the detail that Luke gave us. You could almost taste the salt spray and hear the anchor chains rattle across the deck.
The one issue that kept coming up, was that Paul wanted them all to keep going. He promised that God said no one would be lost, just the cargo and ship. If everyone would stay on board and did their assigned chore, all would live.
It was a huge ship. It carried grain from Egypt to Rome, somewhere from 500-1000 tons of grain. There were 276 men on board for this trip. And Paul said in the middle of hurricane force winds,
"For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me, saying, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.'"
You see, when I was driving home, I caught the last words of a sermon on the radio. The pastor was quoting Matthew 24:13, "But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved."
Which is basically what Paul was telling this crew of 275 men...if you endure, you will save your life. They had to ride out the storm to survive it. Jumping ship would mean death for most, because each crew member and even the soldiers had a task that no one else could do. One missing man could mean death for many.
It is the same for us as a church. We clamber aboard our vessels to sail the seas of God's Word. But when the storms of life start to make us queasy, we want to jump ship and find a better route. We didn't sign up for hurricanes!
It's not the building that is the church dear readers. It is the people. When you look for a church, you must have a captain...or pastor...that you trust. His course is your course. His Admiral is yours. And the crew, they must all pull their weight. No slackers allowed! Every person has their job, from swabbing the decks to piping the tune to come aboard. You sign up, cast off and you don't drop a lifeboat at the first sign of a raincloud.
The church is the people. We are on this trip together. And if we keep our heads and encourage one another, we'll make it to our destination in good time. We just have to remember to endure to the end...no matter what.
Not if, but when a hurricane hits, we lighten our loads. We cast off what is not important, but hang on to the people. Why let a piece of luggage or 200 lbs of cargo get between you and someone who loves Christ too? Let it go...forgive.
I promise you there will be some smooth sailing, but there will also be hurricanes, waterspouts and a cyclone or tsunami. I'm just glad I've signed up with a seaworthy crew. It's no Disney Cruise Ship, but she's a true vessel that will take us into Eternity.
The weather started getting rough,
The tiny ship was tossed,
If not for the courage of the fearless crew
The minnow would be lost, the minnow would be lost...
PS: Did you know you can sing the Amazing Grace to the tune of Ballad of Gilligan's Island? Coincidence? I think not.
"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9