The Critical Priority of Nourishing Yourself During the Storm

Message/Application: Today the story that came up in my reading in Acts 27 today is one that has been on my mind for the past week or more as my family has been going through our own personal storm, and we have also been watching as others around us are also going through them as well. In this story, the Apostle Paul was being moved by ship with a whole lot of other prisoners. He had a great rapport with the centurion and was treated very kindly even though he was technically being handled as a prisoner. As time went on and they were switching ships and routes and the voyage had already become dangerous. Paul tried to warn the crew that he could foresee heavy losses ahead, but they listened to the captain and the owner of the ship only and ignored Paul’s warning of trouble ahead. Verse 13 tells us that “when a gentle south wind sprang up, they thought they had achieved their purpose” so they sailed along the shore of Crete. It was after that a “fierce wind” called “the northeaster” came crashing in and began to wreak havoc on everything. They battled for days on end losing cargo and even having to throw overboard their essential gear. Men in their fight and discouragement had stopped eating and nourishing themselves. Paul finally stood up and told them what we all like to hear when we can clearly see we chose wrong. “You should have listened to me” (Yeah thanks Paul). But he didn’t stop there. He encouraged them to eat and told them that he had a vision of an angel in the night telling him that he would not end this way and that he would indeed go before Caesar as planned. He told the men to take in food and prepare to run the ship aground. He told them that they would certainly lose the ship and all of it’s cargo, but not a single one of them were going to lose their lives. At some point there were a few sailors who tried to jump ship using a skiff and Paul stopped that as well by telling them that if they were all going to make it, none of them could bail ship. It was going to take everyone involved. After Paul spoke these words they were all encouraged, they ate food and then began throwing the grain overboard to lighten the load. When daylight came they didn’t recognize the land they were in but they planned to run the ship aground and found that when it came time to do it they had a sandbar to do it in (rather than dangerous rocky ground). This still completely damaged the ship (as Paul predicted) but every single one of them were alive. In fact, the soldiers had a plan to kill the prisoners on board so that no one could swim away and escape, but the centurion kept that from happening because he wanted to save Paul, so everyone made it to land safely (as Paul predicted as well). This is such a huge and heavy story. I feel like there are so many layers to peel back in this but what I really grabbed from this story today is the importance of sustaining our “nourishment” when the storm comes in and keeping everyone together. We can’t fight the fight alone!! The first thing we are tempted to do when we face storms is to start fighting out of our own understanding and our own experiences. I didn’t fully blame the crew for not listening to Paul when he threw out his warning. It makes sense that they listened to the captain and the ship owner because that was their area of expertise, but when things got out of control, they got worse quickly because they abandoned “nourishment” and nobody can think clearly this way. We lose all sense of reason and wisdom and we spin out of control without it. Our brains cannot function without it and our bodies don’t have the fight we need when we abandon nourishment. In the story we are talking about a physical nourishment which is absolutely real, but spiritually speaking we are also talking about a spiritual nourishment. The storm is not the time to stop reading the word and inquiring of God. We need that direction more than ever in the storm if we are going to make it out alive. I related to this story so much during my COVID fight because there was a period of about a week and a half that I lost my ability to nourish myself physically and I could see how devastating that was to my body trying to fight off the infection in my body. I didn’t have the brain power to function, and I literally felt like my brain powered itself down for a good few weeks because my body was just too weak to fight. I did some desperate praying as I lay there but I didn’t do any reading and this definitely took a toll on me by the time I reached the hospital. My mental state was not where it needed to be, and I found myself ill-equipped to handle the added stressors of being isolated from my family in the hospital. Things began to change however, when I cried out to God from my hospital bed, and I began to establish myself back to basics. I woke up with the sun every single morning and I prayed to establish my day and read my bible (on my phone) before anything else. Eventually I started writing out my devotionals again from my hospital room and reestablishing this pattern brought the nourishment I so desperately needed to fight for not only my breath, but for my sanity as I fought through the emotional isolation of being physically separated from my family. I feel such a strong parallel between this story and my experience even right down to other people involved. My friend was also in the hospital at the same time as me and my husband and other friends were battling COVID at home. People stayed connected to each other and and helped each other in whatever ways they could and are still doing this right now. The fight isn’t over for us as we all recover but we’re all doing it together. Nobody gets to bail this ship alone and if they try they will be in trouble doing so. We need God’s nourishment and we need each other!!

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