listening in storms, Acts 27 & Mark 4

5 Jul

As kind as the Roman centurion Julius is and has been to Paul, he errs in how he listens. Let us listen now to Luke as he describes his voyage with Paul,

‘We made slow headway for many days and had difficulty arriving off Cnidus. When the wind did not allow us to hold our course, we sailed to the lee of Crete, opposite Salmone. 8 We moved along the coast with difficulty and came to a place called Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea.

9 Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Day of Atonement. So Paul warned them, 10 “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” 11 But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship. 12 Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided that we should sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there. This was a harbor in Crete, facing both southwest and northwest.‘

All on ship will soon face a great storm, a shipwreck and great loss. The centurion does not hear Paul’s counsel. He follows the words of the pilot and the ship’s owner. Why?

Mark, in his description of Jesus’ calming the storm, chapter 4, informs us with a possible answer,

35 ‘That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”’

Both the disciples with Jesus and the centurion with Paul are listening to fears.

Jesus asks, ‘Why are you do afraid?’

And their response is to be ‘terrified.’

When we face external storms, movements or people we can’t control, we fear. And when our fears proceed from the external to our internal selves, we can no longer listen, we can no longer be faithful

to a person or any principle but our fear.

Yet, the Lord is not done with the Jesus’ disciples or Paul’s Roman centurion. In process of learning faith, sometimes one must experience a shipwreck in order to fully hear, to fully live in faith.

To listen well. To listen beyond the storm and fear.

Listen so life is Faith. Faith no matter the storm,

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