And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band… And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein. (Acts 27:1, 5-6 KJV)
As we approach the end of the Acts of the Apostles’ Journey, we will be diverting for the next few days so as to enable us take a study course in Navigations.
Our journeying in this life can be likened to Paul’s voyage into Rome via the Alexandrian sail, and there are several lessons that we can draw from thence for our own navigations.
First of all, it is worthy of note that this particular voyage took place at about this time (October) as ‘the fast’ (which was around 25th September) was already passed, and so, it was unarguably approaching the time of the year when it was most difficult to sail on the Mediterranean.
Earlier on, about 2-3 years ago, the Lord had appeared to Paul while he was at Jerusalem and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” (Acts 23:11 KJV) This is the first thing we must note about navigations. A word from the Lord is crucial as we move into life’s sails. The Apostle was not just moving because his Roman Lords wanted it so. Rather, before he even appealed to Caesar, he had obtained a word from the Lord, and it is quite possible that his appeal to Caesar was predicated on that word from the Lord and the insincerity he noticed among the Roman Governors who tried him.
Do you know that one of the greatest burdens in life is to be given responsibility for another person’s life? Paul (as well as other prisoners) was put in charge of a Roman centurion named Julius. The centurion was responsible to ensure that Paul and other prisoners of the state were conveyed safely to Rome. If anything happens and any of the criminals escapes, he (the centurion) will be required to stand in for the prisoner in the law courts and possibly pay with his life. This is not an easy responsibility in life for any man. Many people love to run away from this kind of responsibility. They don’t like being put in charge of another person’s life. But that is what God calls us into as biological and spiritual fathers and mothers. There are certain persons whom God holds us responsible to ensure that we successfully bring them all the way to the divine destination. Understanding this dynamics will help us to be on guard- to watch not only our souls, but the souls of other men and women whom God will be entrusting into our care. It is one of the things we must not forget as we take this study course in Navigations.
For Paul’s journey into Rome, he did not go alone. Apart from the Lord who was with him, there were other brethren like Luke (the Physician), and Aristarchus (a Macedonian from Thessalonica). Luke gave an orderly account of the voyage on the sea, and gives us one of those instances where we know that the Bible is true. The dynamics of the voyage as detailed by Luke could even today still be traced out on the Mediterranean. In fact, some scholars had followed the descriptions of Luke in Acts 27 and were able to arrive at the very bay where the Ship was wrecked later and where they all landed on that small Island of Malta. It is still called the St. Paul’s bay till this day, and a statue of the Apostle still hangs there today (more about them in subsequent posts).
So, from the regions of Caesarea, they entered into a small ship called Adramyttium, and sailing through Sidon (under the Cyprus regions), they arrived at Myra (a city under the Lycia region). From there, Paul and his crew (with the rest of the Roman prisoners under the guard of Julius the Centurion) were transferred to a bigger grain ship which was probably conveying grain from the coasts of Egypt (Alexandria to be precise), to the Roman capital. It this Ship that was the scene of the rest of the accounts given in Acts 27. While the master and owner of the Ship were on board it for their own business of grains and the profits thereof, the Apostle Paul and his team were there for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus; and in the long run, the captain, owner and all the people in the ship would be saved from death on account of the presence of that small sized religious prisoner in that boat. What a blessing!
AND SO? Just like Paul the Apostle, we also are navigating this world, moving from where we are to where God wants us to be. In the midst of it all, one of the safest sure guards is to ensure that at the beginning of each sail, we get a word from God. That is one of the things necessary for safety in an uncertain world. As we will also notice as we follow this navigation through the Mediterranean, there are mindsets and mistakes to guard against if we are going to be successful in this navigation; and this really demands that we continue to listen to God on a daily basis as we go through life.
I pray that God will help every one of us navigating through this world at this unsafe period and bring us all the way from where we are to where He wants us to be. AMEN.