Learning The Ropes

The ship is a Norwegian Training Vessel, berthed in the Orkneys, this summer. This is the way  of life, first Summer then Autumn and then the heavy, stormy seas of winter – when the discipline and training gained over many seasons stand us in good stead. As it is with sailors at sea so it is with Christian voyagers.

In Acts 27, we learn of a shipwreck in stormy seas, despite advice  from the Apostle Paul, the centurion in charge paid more attention to the pilot and the owner of the ship and the majority and set sail from “Fair Havens” taking a chance that they would reach “Phoenix” a harbour of  Crete, where they would spend the winter.   Now, when the gentle South Wind blew, they thought they had it made and weighing anchor they sailed along Crete close to the shore and then the tempestuous wind called Eurakylon bore down on them from the land….

“And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along….”  {Acts 27, 15}

I have always loved this story, yes the ship, it’s cargo are lost but by the grace of God, not a single life and the Gospel is proclaimed in  Malta. One thing I notice is that when Paul goes to the centurion a second time, as the sailors were about to escape in the ship’s boat, leaving everybody else to the mercies of the sea, this time, Paul’s warning was heard, and the ship’s boat cut away and the sailors, whose experience was necessary to save the lives of all, stayed on board.

It seems to me that a Christian’s. northeaster is the ferocious wind that hurls itself at us from the world, the majority opinions whose strength is manifestly greed, selfishness, blind ambition; the determination to get at all costs but first the gentle south wind blows, this is soft persuasion, gentle invitation,  even a plea, to “come and join us” …. a good sailor never sleeps on watch!

So how do we get wised up, where do we learn what we need to know to avoid getting caught up in the wind in the first place?

Paul, advises Timothy (1 Timothy 4:6) and we too should be good servants, trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine handed down to us.

Who handed it down to us?

The answer has to be those who came before us, who taught simply using words that everyone can understand, the ways and rules of right conduct, the things which the Lord teaches, even today, through the Spirit of Truth and Wisdom:

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prob. 22:6)

Keep your ship afloat. Heed the advice and counsel, the words of your parents, teachers, pastors, the words of Holy Scripture and reach harbour safely.

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