Surviving the Storm
Paul and 275 sailors, soldiers, prisoners, and passengers were caught in a fierce storm while crossing the Mediterranean Sea. (You can read the story in Acts 27:13-44.) They all feared for their lives and desperately tried to save themselves. They employed three basic strategies to survive the storm.
First, they tried desperate measures to work themselves out of their problem. They threw cargo overboard, dumped the ship’s tackle into the sea, and went without food or sleep. As hard as they worked, the storm raged on and proved too great for them.
Second, they tried to find stability by dropping four anchors into the angry water. This did little good and ironically hindered their attempts to land the ship. Eventually the sailors chopped the rope and watched their futile efforts sink to the bottom of the sea.
Third, some of the sailors tried to escape in a lifeboat. They longed to abandon their responsibilities and those around them in search of peace and safety for themselves. Their idea was thwarted, and their hope of escape dashed.
We all face storms, and we all resort to survival strategies to get through them. Some of us try to work our way out. We search the internet for answers, work extra hours, slash our budget, donate more to the church, volunteer our time, or make promises to God.
Others seek stability from anchors that will always prove futile. Some fall into pornography or other sexual sins, mistaking perversion for peace while the storm rages. Some eat too much, enjoying a morsel of pleasure and a counterproductive sense of satisfaction. Some spend money they do not have to enjoy the illusion of power and control in a world battered by the relentless storm.
Others hope in the anchor of power, exerting their might over anyone who will bend to their angry demands.
We all have anchors we reach for to gain stability when our world is out of control. My anchors may be different than yours, but we all have them. They provide a mirage of hope and ultimately must be cut off and allowed to sink away from our lives, setting us free.
At times we try to run away. We think that a new job, an exotic vacation, a different house in a far-away city, or a change of spouse will bring us the relief we desire. But wherever we go, we are always there. The trauma increases as we discover that the storm within us is greater than the storm around us.
In the end, survival for Paul and his companions required the loss of everything they had – their ship, their cargo, their equipment, their comfort, and their safety. But God provided for their needs in abundance with a promise, an accessible shore, the warmth of a bonfire, and the protection and hospitality of strangers.
Whether the storms are mild or severe, safety and security are never found in our ability to work our way out, to stabilize our world through futile anchors, or to escape the difficult realities we face. Letting go of everything, trusting the promises of the Savior, and accepting the help of those around us is the only hope we have.
Refueling in Flight Ministries, Inc