The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
The weather in Acts 27:13-20 was suddenly changeable. It went from good to worse to terrible. We may remember that the ship’s steersman and owner were attempting to sail to a safe haven for the winter. This still required that they make some progress. Hoping for the best, they set out when it appeared safe. It was the custom to use shorelines for navigation.
A ship typical of the Mediterranean during the first century would not have a very deep keel. It would not be capable of sailing crosswise to the wind with much accuracy, at least not with a high wind. It would be very dangerous to remain close to a shore when the wind could drive the ship aground.
Paul and his companions had a rough journey. They did all they could to make the ship as safe as possible. But in the storm there was a constant danger of the ship breaking up or running aground. Because of high winds and low visibility, once they were away from a coastline, they couldn’t identify their location with any confidence. They weren’t exactly lost, but they also didn’t know where they were. In this part of the Mediterranean there are a few areas where there are underwater hazards. This would certainly increase their fear.
In aan attempt to save the ship and people, the crew unloaded a good deal of the cargo. They eventually removed much of what they would need to make repairs, simply to try to float as high as possible in the water.
By verse 20, the people on the ship have given up hope. They are in big trouble. They have done all that is humanly possible and it has not rescued them.
Most of us find ourselves in a position like this at least once in our life. We are in a stressful or dangerous situation. Our life seems to be falling apart no matter what we do. No doubt, some of the people on the ship gave up hope entirely and were ready to throw themselves overboard. The Christian response, though, is not to give up hope. We may not be able to see the reason for hope. We may think there is no earthly way of rescue. But the same Lord who walked on water during a great storm is the resurrected Lord who says he will never leave or forsake us. Even though the way is unclear, God’s care is certain. There is no need for fear.
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