Fleshly Navigation

Acts 27:13 “When a moderate south wind came up, supposing that they had attained their purpose, they weighed anchor and began sailing.”

Observation: Paul was prisoner on a ship sailing for Rome under difficult circumstances. Never one to ignore an audience, Paul, though in chains, gave warning to the experienced seamen that great danger lay ahead if they pressed on. Naturally, the men chose to ignore Paul’s advice and to trust instead in their years of sailing acumen. Within ten verses, they had encountered such dire circumstances that all hope of surviving was abandoned, all because they chose to follow a moderate south wind rather than the warning from God. 

Application: The crew supposed they had gained their purpose. Such a small phrase, yet one laden with truth as a commentary on how I all too often govern my life. The ship was at risk because they chose to trust their accumulated years of experience to get them to safe harbor. They acted in presumption. 

Isn’t this a perfect picture of men exalting themselves above God? They had clear warning against proceeding, but they trusted in their own prowess for deliverance, and it ended in near catastrophe. Perhaps they arrogantly considered the source of the warnings—a man in chains heading for trial in Rome—and decided he could not possibly have important information to share. In any event, a modest south wind came up, so off they went.

How foolish, yet how like me. I ignore clear but inconvenient warnings, thinking my abilities will carry me safely through. As a consequence, I look for a moderate south wind and leap to catch its advantage. But I proceed at my own peril. I feverishly crunch the numbers to set the course of business, asking God to bless my efforts. I rely upon generational experience to raise children, ignoring hard teachings of Scripture. In deciding that I know better than God what is best, I learn gradually to ignore and ultimately to extinguish the quietly pleading voice of God that would lead into all wisdom. But God doesn’t abandon me; He merely requires a course correction. He says, as Paul would tell the people, not to be afraid. Yes, the ship is going to founder, but God will preserve you. He will rescue you if you will obey His voice and turn from the course chosen by fleshly navigation (see Acts 27:22-25).

Prayer: Father God, there is nothing within me that merits Your favor, yet You have granted it nonetheless. You stand at the ready, eager for me finally to follow You rather than my own inclinations. Thank You, Lord, that You are wringing earthly desires out of me and gradually teaching me to hear and obey Your voice.

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