The Bible teaches us that there are three kinds of storms in life: storms that we bring on ourselves (like Samson), storms that God causes (like Lake Galilee), and storms that other people cause (as when Paul and Silas were thrown into prison). When you are the innocent party in a crisis, that last kind of storm is especially hard to take.
How do we stay calm and maintain our confidence and courage, regardless of what happens?
God put the apostle Paul, as a prisoner, on board a ship headed from Palestine to Rome. After the ship ventured through the Mediterranean Sea and docked at the island of Crete, God told Paul to advise the crew not to leave the harbor because there was going to be a great storm. But the sailors were impatient to get to a better harbor, so they ignored what God had told them through Paul (Acts 27:9-12).
Impatience often gets us into trouble.
I have spoken with many crisis-ridden people who were impatient: impatient to get married, impatient to get a new job, or impatient to move to the other side of town. They didn’t take time to check things out with God, and they sailed right off into the awaiting storms.
3 common reasons why people get themselves in a mess:
Wrong Guidance from the Experts
The centurion who had charge over Paul ignored his plea and instead followed the advice given by both the captain and the owner of the ship. The first reason we get ourselves into a mess is we listen to the wrong experts.
The only truly reliable expert is God.
Wrong Guidance from a Vote
The majority of the crew decided that the ship should sail on. They hoped to reach Phoenix and its safe harbor on the other side of Crete (Acts 27:12).
The second reason we get ourselves in trouble is that we take a vote. The fact is that the majority can be wrong. We can get ourselves into a real mess by following the prevailing opinion, the most popular ideas. If we listen to God, we will go in the right direction.
Wrong Guidance from Circumstances
When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. — Acts 27:13
Why else do we get ourselves into trouble? Because we rely on circumstances. There was a gentle south wind. The sailors thought they had gotten their wish because the circumstances looked favorable.
But it is foolish and unwise to ignore what God says, even if circumstances tend to contradict it. Things may look good right now, but you may be sailing right into a storm.
I have heard people say, “Well, this decision must be okay because I feel so good about it.” The fact is that feelings often lie. If God says, “Wait in the harbor,” you had better wait in the harbor.
As I talk with people in counseling, I hear over and over again that they thought they had obtained what they wanted but then went sailing right into a storm, just as the sailors in the book of Acts did. They found themselves caught in “a wind of hurricane force” (Acts 27:14). The ship — like so many couples I counsel — became caught in the storm and could not head into the wind.
Excerpted with permission from God’s Answers to Life’s Difficult Questions by Rick Warren, copyright Zondervan.
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What was one occasion when you made a decision more typical of the sailors than of the apostle Paul? How have you experienced that first anchor — the presence of God — during a recent crisis? Come join the conversation on our blog! We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily