29th May 2021

Strengthening arms

Then things got scary. A violent northeaster, the Euraquilo, blew down across Crete. We were caught. We couldn’t turn and sail into this fierce wind, so we had no choice but to let it drive us. We briefly found a bit of shelter from the wind near the island of Clauda. We had been having trouble securing the ship’s lifeboat; but we were able there to hoist it up and send down cables to brace the hull, which was in danger of breaking apart under the strain of the storm.
Acts 27:14-17 (Voice)

The first time I crossed the Channel was when I was a teenager, going with my brother to Switzerland via Paris. A storm was raging as we boarded the ferry and we spent most of the time standing in a small open area under the bridge, watching the ship’s bow smash into the waves as the boat pitched and rolled. It was exhilarating and far better than being inside, where many of the passengers were having trouble with their stomachs.

But in spite of the conditions, we were safe. A substantial modern ferry is very different from the boats that plied their trade in the Mediterranean in Paul’s day.

However, in Acts we see the consequences of ignoring weather conditions. Paul, having appealed to Caesar, was being escorted to Rome and that meant a boat journey across the Mediterranean Sea. When the ship reached Crete it was already too late in the year for safe passage and Paul warned the Centurion that they would lose the ship, the cargo and their very lives if they continued. He was ignored, and it wasn’t too long before they were hit by such a violent storm that the ship was in danger of breaking up.

In those days, a standard method to save a boat was to undergird it. Ropes and cables were passed from one side of the ship, under the keel and up onto the decking the other side, to stop the caulking coming out, the planks opening up, the water pouring in and the ship sinking.

So when we are in one of life’s storms, and we feel like we are breaking up, it’s good to know that the word for these strengthening cables that tie and hold a boat together is the same word we find in Hebrews 4:16 for ‘help’: undergirding us – so that we don’t come apart at the seams and sink. That’s the sort of help God is more than willing to give us. Our prayer is taken from this there:

Father, our thanks to you that we can come boldly to your throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Study by Hilary Buck


About the writer:
Hilary Buck is a Minister and pastors the Lewes congregation of Grace Communion International.

Local congregation:
Grace Communion in Lewes
The House of Friendship
208 High Street

Meeting time:
Sunday 11:00am

Local congregational contact:
Hilary Buck
Email: lewes@gracecom.church

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