Paul’s journey to Rome was beset with many difficulties, including a storm at sea that eventually led to the loss of the ship and all its contents.
Early on, Paul had intreated Julius, (the centurion charged with delivering him to Rome), not to continue once they had reached Fair Havens in Cyprus. However, Julius was persuaded by the helmsman and ship owner to try and find a more suitable place to spend the winter. It was logical for Julius to accept the testimony of seasoned mariners over that of a prisoner, and he would soon rue that decision.
At one point on that treacherous trip, the conditions had become so bad that all 276 passengers and crew on board had given up hope of being saved (v 20). This includes Paul and Luke, who had accompanied Paul on this trip. Circumstances were so bleak that they had all been nearly two weeks without food.
But Paul received word from God that he would see Rome and stand before Caesar. He also received assurance that every man aboard the ship would be delivered, further affirming, “I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.” Finally, Paul gave warning that the ship would run aground on a certain island.
The situation continued to deteriorate, and the sailors attempted to abandon the rest of the passengers. Paul warned the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” Paul was not unconvinced or wavering in his faith in God’s message that none would be lost. But he realized it would take the training and expertise of the sailors to assure the safety of everyone aboard and bring God’s promise to fruition.
Heeding Paul, the centurion ordered the skiff (a small lifeboat) to be cut loose and fall into the sea. In this case, it was not only Paul who believed God, but it was the centurion who believed in God because of Paul!
Therein lies a great lesson for us! We cannot expect people to believe God if they do not see a deep and abiding faith in us! When the storms of life come, do we allow ourselves to be driven by the winds and battered by the waves? Or do we have our anchor firmly set in the Rock of Ages?
Whatever life may cast our way, may we always say, “I believe God!”