Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

 Trust in the Providence of God

Acts 27: 9-26 

God's Providence is our Almighty God's presence, protection, and guidance that helps us in every way. He ensures that the true believer's actions and inactions will always lead to the way God intended to be, which we believe will always be positive.

Our lives are full of challenges. We receive advice from everyone on how to deal with our difficulties. Everyone seems to know how to deal with our problems, but they seldom know how to deal with their issues. When we get advice from others, we have two options: either we listen and obey the advice given, or we choose not to take it and have to deal with the consequences. Life is a journey, and we do not know where we will end up - only God knows.

This passage talks about Paul, a Prophet of God, on a journey to Rome on a large cargo ship. He was a prisoner taken to be judged by Caesar along with other prisoners. 

It is not the first time Paul has been on a ship. According to 2 Corinthians 11:25, he had been in three shipwrecks before. This reference tells us that Paul had sailed before and gained vast experience sailing. His past voyages, however, ended in disasters. The question here is why so many shipwrecks. Did he know how to sail? Did he learn his lesson from his first shipwreck? Was he the captain of the ship or just another passenger on crashed ships? Did he have bad luck on ships?

Verse 10 says that Paul warns the Centurion that the voyage will be disastrous, bring significant loss to the ship and cargo, and may even be dangerous to their lives. Many times, we get unsolicited advice from others on what to do. Sometimes, the advice is good, and sometimes, it is wrong. The advice giver often bases it on their past experiences and does not want us to suffer the same fate. It can come from a dark area when they do not want someone to succeed in a new venture. So, they try to scare the person from doing something unorthodox. In the end, we have to make a final choice.

One thing is for sure: we cannot get experience from another person's experience. We have to experience it for ourselves and learn from it, regardless of the outcome yielding a good or bad result. If we do not take risks in life, there are no rewards. If you want to play it safe all the time, I suggest you do not take chances in life and settle for mediocracy, but then you will be destined to be an average person.

The Centurion, in verse 11, does not listen to Paul and takes the advice of the ship's captain and the vessel's owner. He continues the voyage without a change of course. Most people behave this way. We don't know good advice when we hear it. Our parents and elders tell us that we should reconsider our actions, but we don't listen even though they recount their own experiences. I truly understand why we don't heed the advice of others. How did they learn that knowledge? They must have experienced it at some point. I am sure they were told not to do something and did it anyway, and now they ask their children not to do the same thing. Sometimes, we need to experience it ourselves: that is the only way to learn. Is this the best way to learn?

Verse 14 tells us that a great storm called Northeaster is approaching the ship's direction, and the boat starts to suffer during its sailing. I am not sure if Paul was able to foresee this coming storm. If he could predict such things, why did his other voyages end in a shipwreck? Or was he telling the captain not to go because he did not want to be judged by Caesar, be condemned to prison, or face the death penalty? The captain and the ship's owner had to consider where Paul's advice was coming from before deciding to move forward with the voyage. Maybe they did not know that he was a prophet of God, or they knew that other expeditions Paul was on ended up in a shipwreck. In any case, we do not understand why they did not listen to Paul.

As the voyage continued, the storm grew. Later we learn that the only way to move forward safely was to lighten the ship's load by throwing things overboard that belonged to the travelers and the boat, but this only helped the cause temporarily.

In Verses 21-22, Paul tells them they should have listened and not traveled against his advice. Paul assures them there will be no loss of life, but the ship will be rendered useless. It will be Paul's fourth shipwreck. In Verses 23-24, Paul tells the crew that an angel of God had visited him. The Angle said, "do not be afraid," meaning all is going according to God's plan.

The Providence of God: God made sure that the decisions made during this voyage went well for everyone. I am not sure about the ship's owner. At least he survived and will have another opportunity to buy or build another boat.

When given a choice, we need to make the one that best serves others, not us. Most people make decisions based on what suits them the best. Our selfish actions are the causes of many arguments and disagreements in our families. If we put God first, then we will have a fulfilling life. It is easier said than done, but we must try hard. God's Providence will always protect us as long as we believe in an Almighty God, our only provider.

Dear Lord, we ask that you help us to make the right choices according to Your will. Please help us to take the advice of our elders who have learned from their experiences. Please, Lord, when we make a wrong decision, which is not according to Your plan, please, we pray, protect us because we trust in You completely.
Thought for the Day  
When you trust someone who gives you advice for your good and not for the benefit of the person giving it, how do you decipher it?

Shibu P. Thomas
Staten Island Mar Thoma Church

 Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church

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