Acts 27: 21-26
After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: ‘Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.’
This is Paul’s moment where he shows what real unsinkable character looks like. Real character isn’t following the majority or being dictated to by what you feel. Real character isn’t shown when the sun is shining and you’re safe in harbour. Real character is shown in a crisis. The storm doesn’t make a person what he or she is so much as it reveals what is already inside them.
In this storm, when everyone has given up all hope, when there is nothing but despair, that’s when Paul comes to the fore, steps up and shows real leadership.
The captain, the owner of the boat and the centurion might have had the positions and titles of leader. But real leadership isn’t based on position and title – it’s someone who is willing to step up in the middle of chaos and in the midst of a crisis and take control.
You don’t need the title of a leader to be one. Some of you are leaders in your families, in your classrooms, in your workplaces, in community organisations. You don’t wear a badge and no one calls you a leader. But when they don’t know what to do, they look to you for advice; when things get too heavy, you step up and carry the extra weight; when it all seems to be falling apart, you speak fresh courage and inspire hope to press forward into the future.
In the middle of the storm, what the Apostle Paul lacked in position and title, he made up for in authority and credibility. They were now ready to listen.
Look at verse 22:
“But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.”
Is this good news? It depends on which part of the sentence you focus on.
Not one of you will be lost - that’s good news.
Only the ship will be destroyed - for every other person there, the ship was everything, the ship staying afloat was their only hope.
The ship represents what you think right now is holding you up and keeping you afloat. It’s what you think you can’t live without, it’s carrying you. It’s where you look for security. It could be your bank balance, your job, your status or position, a relationship, even your family or church.
If your hope is in the boat then you’re not going to stay afloat. When the boat goes down you’re sunk. You have no hope.
Paul can confidently say, “Keep up your courage.” If your hope is in the boat you end up with conditional courage. If the boat is okay, then you’re oaky. But if that relationship breaks up – you fall apart with it. If your job isn’t going so well – then nothing is going well. If your bank balance goes down – then you sink into the depths with it.
Paul makes clear where he get his unshakeable courage and unsinkable confidence from.
“Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” (vv. 23-24)
Paul’s identity isn’t in the boat or anything else. It is firmly rooted in God, his security in being a son and servant of the Most High King of kings.
He belongs to God and not to his belongings. When you don’t belong to your belongings, you can lose them all and you haven’t lost anything.
The boat is good – but the boat is not God.
Your job is good – but it’s not unsinkable.
Your bank account might be good – but it’s not unshakeable.
Your relationship might be good – but God’s love is so much more secure than even the closest relationship.
Find your security, identity and confidence in Him. That’s what will make you truly unsinkable when everything and everyone else is falling apart.