I’ve never been on a sinking ship, but I have been under a sinking jet ski. A few weeks ago, my family enjoyed some water recreation at a friend’s lake house. Through a series of unfortunate events, one of the jet skis started to sink. All of the adults zipped up a life vest and jumped in to try to hold it afloat. Man versus water is not my favorite scenario. The situation seemed a bit hopeless—a handful of adults fighting all of Lake Martin. I was humbled by the power of the water.
A sinking ship (or jet ski, as the case may be) provides an excellent analogy for those times in life we feel a loss of hope. I like to think I am all in with God’s plan for my life. But when a storm hits, and things aren’t going my way, doubt becomes my go-to emotion. While I say, “I trust you,” I scramble for security. I want a color-coordinated plan outlined in my calendar. I want to see the numbers add up in the checkbook. I want my plan to be His plan instead of the other way around.
While Paul is en route to Rome, a northeaster hits the ship. The situation was hopeless: “When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned” (Acts 27:20, ESV). Everyone on board the ship gave up. Everyone except Paul. An angel of God visited him and assured him he would stand before Ceasar. Paul told the sailors of his vision, assured them of his faith in a God who delivers, and then blessed them with broken bread.
Our sailor friends had two choices. They could give up and go down with the ship, or trust in Paul’s God. They chose faith. In order to be saved from the storm, they had to lighten the load on the ship. In the middle of a violent storm, the sailors made the decision to cast off their anchors and leave them in the sea. The wheat intended to feed them also went overboard. They loosened the ropes tied to the rudders, allowing the storm to guide their ship.
Read the full story in Acts 27:13-44 and Acts 28:1-10.
Be a sailor with me for a minute. Waves crash into the side of the splintering ship. The roaring thunder assaults your ears. The wind drives the cold, stinging rain into your body. Darkness pushes in from above and below. And you release every provision on the ship. The anchor that might hold you, the wheat intended to feed you, and the rudders meant to guide you.
This is a picture of faith. The sailors gave in fully to God’s plan. They had nothing but the storm to guide them, trusting in a God who had full control of the storm.
I tell God I trust Him, but I keep my anchors just in case I want to hold my position steady in the storm. I keep a firm grasp of my possessions out of fear that the God who sent manna in the desert won’t give me my daily bread tomorrow. I fight the current, trying to steer the ship in the direction I want it to go. I say I believe, but my actions tell another story.
When the storm tosses me around, I succumb to doubt instead of believing the One who rules the storm.
What if, instead of doubt, we choose faith? Cut the ropes to the anchor so we can move forward. Release our grip on our resources, choosing generosity over hoarding. Let the current of God’s will take us where every need will be met and every vision fulfilled.
My friends and I were able to right the jet ski and push it onto a mechanical lift. After a little work and dumping a lot of water, the jet ski was back out on top of the water, running better than before the near-sinking episode.
Our sailor friends have a happy ending, too. Their ship is lost, just as Paul predicted. But not a single mate perishes. They swim ashore and are greeted by the natives of Malta, an unusually kind people (Acts 28:1-2). While there, Paul heals the chief and the people of their diseases. Because of this, the natives restock their ship before Paul and the crew set sail for Rome. God used the storm to make things better than before. He met the needs of the people of Malta and the needs of the sailors.
As we sit in darkness, hearing the thunder and feeling the driving rain, we have two choices: hold onto our perceived control and go down with the ship, or release everything and let God use this storm to take us exactly where He wants us.
What do you need to release? Are you holding tight to your position, your possessions, your control? Let’s cut the ropes and toss it all overboard!