“When a gentle southerly breeze came up, they weighed anchor, thinking it would be smooth sailing. But they were no sooner out to sea than a gale-force wind, the infamous nor’ easter, struck. They lost all control of the ship. It was a cork in the storm.” —Acts 27:13-15 MSG.
Gilligan’s Island, a mid-sixties American sitcom, followed the comic adventures of seven castaways who left Honolulu on a “three-hour tour” aboard the SS Minnow. After encountering a tropical storm, their vacation “goes south,” and they find themselves shipwrecked on an uncharted island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.
This leads me to ask, “How did your summer go?” Maybe you took an exciting vacation—and maybe not. Perhaps you opted for a staycation instead and took advantage of the extra time to get caught up on some long-overdue projects. Regardless of how you spent your time, I’m sure you have a story to tell. Because no matter where we’re going or what we’re doing, life happens. Where there’s good news, there’s usually a bit of bad news or at least a few glitches—to keep life interesting.
In Acts 27, God tells Paul to take courage. The ship he is a prisoner on is going down, but there’s good news—everyone on board will live. Oh, but there’s more… “You will surely stand trial before Caesar.” What? That’s the good news? That’s not how I would have written it. It seems to me like this would have been the perfect moment for God to sweep in and rescue Paul from his captors. After all, Paul is the victim here. He warned the sailors there was trouble ahead and not to leave Crete. But did they listen? No. Now, Paul must suffer the consequences of their mistake. He was but a cork in the storm.
Been there? Me too. Paul didn’t have a choice in his destination, his mode of transportation, or who his shipmates would be, but he could choose the way he would handle his situation. I love Paul. We first see his humanness—his frustration, and he wasn’t beyond an occasional “I told you so.” This seemed like a good place for one, but he quickly switched gears to let all those onboard know the hope that God had instilled in him. Because Paul opted not to “go overboard” (pardon the pun), his circumstances were the catalyst God used to reveal Himself to others.
What do you do when trouble climbs aboard your lovely sailing ship, and you find you’re but “a cork in the storm?” Although you didn’t choose the storm, you can choose how you’ll perform in the storm. Smooth sailing or not, God is the Captain of the ship. Allow Him to reveal Himself to you and through you. Others need to know the reason for your hope.
Now it’s your turn: What do you do when trouble climbs aboard your lovely sailing ship, and you find you’re but “a cork in the storm?
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** This article was published in The Randolph Hub, September 27, 2023