As I wrote last week, the Apostle Paul spent two years in a prison in Caesarea, on the Mediterranean coast of Palestine, before being transferred to another two years of house arrest in Rome. It was while sailing from Caesarea to Rome that Paul experienced one of the most dangerous adventures of his life. In his eye-witness account of the voyage in the Book of Acts, Luke writes about it in vivid detail. You can read the whole exciting story here.
After stopping briefly at the city of Sidon (verse 3; the home of Sister Suzanne, to which she will be returning tomorrow), the ship went on westward until it reached the island of Crete. On the south side of Crete, they dropped anchor in a harbor named Fair Havens (verse 8). There the leaders argued about whether to continue on the journey, because they were behind schedule and severe winter storms could come at any time. Paul expressed his spiritual intuition that sailing at this time would be dangerous, but the leaders decided to move ahead anyway. They had not gotten far before a raging storm began pounding them. The sailors lost control, and the ship was swept far off course. A second storm followed the first, and storm after storm hit them during two weeks of terror. Finally, the helpless vessel ran aground on an unknown piece of land. It turned out to be the island of Malta, just off the southern tip of Italy, 500 miles from their last port in Fair Havens. So, after all the uncontrollable chaos, they were still virtually on course, and only about 300 miles from their destination in Rome.
Are you anchored in Fair Havens? Maybe a pretty calm, satisfying period of your life? You know you can’t stay here forever. What should your next move be? Something is telling you that there are likely to be storms ahead. But something else tells you that you’ve got to launch out into your future, your destiny. The storms will come, and they may seem to go on forever. But if you trust the Lord, you’ll ultimately land much closer to your destiny than when the storms started hitting you.
During the worst of the storms, Paul assured the other passengers with a message he had received from the Lord: “I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship” (verse 22). Your ship will go down — this earthy body that has carried you so far will die. But hear the Lord’s assurance that “there will be no loss of life among you” — your precious soul, the essence of who you are, created in his image, will live eternally.
That’s the forecast from Fair Havens.
— Pastor George Van Alstine