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.”
Acts 27:9-12 poses a challenge to us. The Lord has promised to be with his people. He will guard them from all harm. We routinely express that truth and expect that it will happen. We surround ourselves and others with prayers for safety. Now, in verse 9, we recognize that the journey of Paul may be dangerous. It may be very dangerous. Most shipping would come to a halt during this season.
In verse 10 Paul acts as a prophet. He says that there will be injury, probably loss of the cargo, the ship, and lives. If Paul is correct, it’s exactly the right time to choose a safe course. Wouldn’t it be nice to stay in Fair Havens through the winter?
In verse 11 we see that the pilot and owner, people who certainly would have an informed opinion of the risks, think it’s not the best idea to stay there. They persuade the centurion as well. The question, then, is whether we trust the person who might be a prophet but who might simply be ready to delay for a few months. Maybe we should trust the expert who has a financial interest in getting the ship and cargo safely to its destination.
This is not an easy decision. The final decision was to attempt a journey to a more suitable harbor, but not try to complete the journey. It’s an entirely reasonable decision.
As we will see when we read on, the decision is wrong, but Paul is also wrong. Paul’s prediction is that the ship will be lost and so will many lives. In fact, this doesn’t all happen. The ship owner’s prediction is that they will be able to reach a more suitable port safely. Again, this doesn’t happen.
In all our lives there are frustrations, delays, and impediments. Our plans won’t work out as we expect all the time. Sometimes those plans never work out. There are times when circumstances would say that God has abandoned us. But in all of it, the hand of God may be seen as he provides for his creation. The journey, entrusted to God, will certainly turn out somehow. At the end of the day we can look back and see God’s grace.
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