Jim's teaching from Acts 27 this past Sunday was one of my favorite passages in Acts, even though shipwrecks take some imagination for us in our sophisticated 21st century cruising days. The ship we were on for my Dad's 80th birthday never once gave me a feeling of vulnerability to storm. It was a hunk of metal-floating-city and only on the last night was I actually aware we were moving on water... and let's just say that Dramamine can be a girl's travel friend on the water.
The story might be cast in seeming fiction, even though we know it to be factual and biographical. But more than the fascinating nautical information, and even more than Paul's own personal story of leadership and the testimony of his unswerving trust in God's intentional plan for him, it paints in bold stroke metaphor the emotional and spiritual seasons of life that call for survival. Jim's teaching was of course amazing and, as always, profitable for my own daily walk of faith, but it brought to mind for me two "right-brained" thoughts.
First, I was struck by the things that had to be thrown overboard. When the indications were that this was actually going to be a storm of intensity, and indeed the signs were many, the scripture says they began to jettison the cargo. Next we're told that they tossed the tackle, "with their own hands". After that, they cut the ropes and let go the life boats. Then they threw over the wheat, and finally, we're told they cast off the anchors, the last thing available to them to possibly secure the ship.
For surviving the storm, they had to let go of their livelihood, their tools, their emergency plan, their provision, and their security. Have you been here? Do you relate to times in life when you have had to let go of some, or all, to even have the hope of survival? And even then, when you think you've made significant sacrifice, you find you are not yet safe?
The second thing that ran into my poet's heart was that sometimes, only brokenness will carry us to safety. Even after tossing everything overboard, and doing all they knew to do, the ship still was lost, yet we read: "...some on planks, and others on various things from the ship. And so it happened that they all were brought safely to land."
It has a 21st century relevance not so much to our literal mode of transportation, but to a God who never runs out of ways to find and save us. Sometimes he uses traditional methods like ships, and anchors, and jobs, and our own cleverness. And then sometimes, we are surprised to be brought to safety on our brokenness. Usually, my brokenness looks just like flotsom, driftwood, waste. But God is intentional about our survival, and can transform our brokenness into the tools of our rescue. It makes me think of the cross we have hanging in the chapel, driftwood or wreckage from a tree long gone, the tools of the Savior's saving us.
Well, I don't think I'm done with this passage yet! It still sits only partially plucked in my mind. Perhaps it will be an island town of "Fair Havens" where I'll rest a while :)
Saved, by whatever He chooses to provide for me.