We had lost much time, and it was now dangerous to sail, because it was already after the Jewish day of fasting. So Paul warned them, “Men, I can see that there will be a lot of trouble on this trip. The ship, everything in it, and even our lives may be lost!” But the captain and the owner of the ship did not agree with Paul. So the army officer accepted what they said instead of believing Paul. Also, that harbor was not a good place for the ship to stay for the winter, so most of the men decided that we should leave there. They hoped we could reach Phoenix, where the ship could stay for the winter. Phoenix was a city on the island of Crete. It had a harbor that faced southwest and northwest. (Acts 27:9-12 ERV)
In this article, we will continue our study course in Navigations. Today, I will be speaking on the tendency of men to ignore warnings. The Apostle Paul may have been speaking by the Holy Spirit; but beyond all that, he was an experienced sailor who had travelled on many ships to several locations, and had experienced ship-wrecks a few times. Hence, he had known the dynamics of a ship wreck and how to avoid one. Counting on his experience, he warned the sailors to tarry a little while where they are so that the winter will pass. He urged them to patience, after which the journey will be continued. But the others said no.
Do you know why the captain and the owner of the ship rejected Paul’s advice? It was simply because it was inconvenient for them. They simply considered the cargo they were carrying, and how much money they will lose if they remained back at that port for the winter; hence, they decided to brace the ocean tides. Urged on by their desired profits and their love of convenience, they pushed on into the ocean tides.
The funniest part was that as they set forth, they experienced a soft southern wind which tended to blow on them, thereby helping them. They concluded that the coming of this southern soft wind was a sign that they had taken the right decision. Hence, they happily set on sail to their desired harbor. Little did they know that it was a trap, because it was not long when the strong “North-Eastern” wind began to blow; and that began their sorrows and woes as predicted by Paul, the Apostle. The waves came against them so strongly that it looked like all hope was lost. Dr. Luke recounts the experience thus; “The next day the storm was blowing against us so hard that the men threw some things out of the ship. A day later they threw out the ship’s equipment. For many days we could not see the sun or the stars. The storm was very bad. We lost all hope of staying alive—we thought we would die. The men did not eat for a long time. Then one day Paul stood up before them and said, “Men, I told you not to leave Crete. You should have listened to me. Then you would not have all this trouble and loss.” (Acts 27:18-21 ERV)
This gives us a fundamental instruction as we navigate life’s courses: Learn to listen to warnings, or mildly put advices. Sometimes in our life’s courses, God puts certain elders inside our ship- men and women who have had track records and concrete evidences in navigating life’s course; and our duty as young men and women is to listen to them. It is a tragedy that you will see some of our brothers and sisters who are at the verge of making certain serious decisions in life, such as marriage, and they are not willing to listen to sound counsel from those who had gone ahead of them in life’s journeys; especially men with God’s Spirit inside them. Hence, they go ahead to launch their sails, and ignore every warnings and reservations placed by elderly spiritual counsels. The funny thing is that at the beginning of their navigation in the way they had chosen, there seems to be a favourable wind backing them. They feel the joy and gladness of making such decisions, and see no need to make a course correction. However, they fail to realize that the journey had only just begun, and there are still many things to meet on the way.
So, it was for the sailors in Apostle Paul’s ship. The soft southern seas began to blow and seemed to be working in their favour. Thus, they were certain that ignoring the Apostle’s warning was good for them… but in due time came the North-Eastern wind, and that turned the whole tide. At the end of it all, they lost the boat, the lost their precious cargoes that they were trying to sell, and it was only due to the mercies of God, that they did not lose their lives.
AND SO? Be careful not to downplay warnings. When the soft winds of emotions and desire is carrying you towards a relationship with the opposite sex, be careful not to ignore warnings and objections from experienced spiritual elders. When the tides of a mouthwatering business deal or money-making venture is softly carrying you, be careful not to ignore the objections from godly influences around you. I am not saying you must follow the course of every objection and refuse to sail, but ensure that you have thought through and prayed through the objections, and that you hear the voice of the Spirit still insisting that you go on. Do not let emotions, or the desire for financial gain, or your sentiments towards another man’s feelings compel you on… but in all things, let God’s Spirit lead you, and as you sail, do not ignore warnings.