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Read between the Lines

Read Between the Lines

            For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, “Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.”  –Acts 27:23-24

When I read this passage I pictured in great detail the shipwreck at hand, as Paul was taken prisoner to set sail to Rome and to stand trial before Caesar. Detail-oriented as he was, the author and physician, Luke, took great lengths to document the situation that all 276 men on board had faced.

The winter was setting in, the winds were beating against the ship, and a hurricane named the “Northeaster” had swept down, followed by a grueling storm. The men were a wreck themselves. Some sailors wanted to abandon ship by cutting the lifeboat and saving their lives. They haven’t eaten in days, and they had given up all hope of being saved. All this while, little was said about Paul, except his initial warning for them not to sail their intended course.

At the height of despair, Paul confidently stood up and told the others not to be afraid and that they would not lose their life, for an angel of God had appeared to him during the course of the night to tell him this very comforting news. And that’s exactly what happened. They lost all the cargo and they even lost the ship, but each of their lives was preserved.

It seemed as if God had swept down to Paul’s rescue out of the blue, and he didn’t have to do anything. But if we read carefully into God’s words to Paul, we realize something that Paul did, which Luke did not record. To get a clearer picture, we need to read between the lines.

Like everyone else, Paul was probably alarmed by the storm. But he had faith in God and he continued to pray, though it is not recorded anywhere in Acts 27 that Paul was praying hard, nor does Paul admit this to the rest of the ship crew. In fact, God’s answer to Paul was in response to Paul’s intercessions and call for help. And we know it was an answer to intercession because, in order for us to be “granted” something, it requires that we ask for it.

Besides praying for safety from the storm, Paul prayed for the lives of the other 275 men that were experiencing the same life-and-death situation. In his own troubles, he did not forget the well-being of others. Because of Paul’s acts of prayer and faith, God granted his requests and gave the lives of the others into his hands. I love this part—lives were redeemed by the power of prayer.

We see God’s assurance to those caught in the storm, but we also now realize that it was in response to Paul’s prayer. In fact, Paul himself was probably just as restless about the great stir of commotion. The big difference was what he was doing while all the men were panicking.

Sometimes, when we face various storms in our day-to-day, it seems easier just to cut the lifeboat and abandon ship. Just give it all up—especially when no solution seems to offer itself to us any time soon. But the prayer of one God-fearing man and his love for others made such a big difference. We can be that praying hand—the one whose prayer can save ourselves and save lives.

            Questions for reflection:

1.       What has the Lord given over to you because of your praying spirit, and how did it strengthen your trust and reliance in Him?

2.       What is the one thing that you want God to give over to you today? Have you pursued it in prayer or by other means?

Publisher: True Jesus Church