In part 1 of this series, Paul is being transported to Rome aboard a merchant ship. They are in a place called "Fair Havens" and winter is coming on. Paul has advised that they winter in Fair Havens, but the centurion in charge of Paul chooses to listen to the pilot and owner of the ship, and the decision is made to set sail. But they haven't sailed yet. There is still time for them to change their minds and follow Paul's advice! The men seem to be waiting for a "sign" that it will be all right to sail!
"When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete." (Acts 27:13, 14)
A gentle wind. Just the sign they needed! Now they were sure that their journey would be blessed by God! Of course, they had heard directly from the mouth of a prophet of God that they should NOT set sail, but this isn't what they wanted to hear. Their human desire to go their own way made them doubt Paul's word, and they waited for a "sign". And they got one. A gentle wind. Who could ask for better sailing conditions?
How often have we been in a similar situation? We have received a word from God, but something keeps us from hearing God clearly. Maybe it's that we're not used to hearing God when He speaks. Maybe we don't know how to communicate with Him. Or maybe it is that our human desires are either keeping us from hearing God clearly, or causing us to doubt what we've heard! Whatever the reason, when we receive a word from the Lord, we often ask for a "sign".
Is this wrong? No. Look at Gideon. He asked for three signs. But I believe there is an important lesson to be learned in these two verses of Acts. Let's look at them again: "When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted . . ." These men asked for a "sign", and then began looking for circumstantial evidence! Don't we all do the same? "I think God may be calling me to the mission field in Korea. I prayed for a sign, and last night there was a documentary on TV. about Korea. I think God is trying to tell me something!" And yes, maybe He is. But there is danger here!
The downfall of the sailors lie in this simple statement: "They thought they had obtained what they wanted . . ." They thought it was a sign, so they didn't take the time to "check it out" with God! They based a very large decision, on which rode hundreds of lives, on circumstance alone, without bothering to get confirmation that it was indeed of God!
Well, you all are probably familiar with the rest of the story: "Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the "northeaster," swept down from the island. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along." (Acts 27:14-15) The men asked for a sign, they received a circumstantial one, and believing it was from God, they sailed. And the consequence of basing their decision on circumstantial evidence? "A wind of hurricane force . . . swept down . . . the ship was caught by the storm . . ."
My friends, I am the first to admit that it isn't always easy to understand God's direction. I also freely admit that my human desires often cloud my mind so that I feel the need to seek further direction from God -- a "sign". But let us NOT fall into the trap of these soldiers and sailors! Don't make decisions on the basis of circumstance alone! Always be willing to take the next step! Always confirm any circumstantial evidence you think you have received by the Word of God! Why? Because the enemy can also manipulate circumstance, and if you do not seek God's confirmation of circumstances, you, like the sailors in Acts 27, could also be led into the storm of your life!
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Moderator, The Nugget, Scriptural Nuggets ( www.scripturalnuggets.org ), Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org
(To access the entire "Shipwrecked!!!" mini-series, please click here.)