Please don’t laugh; but one of the things I remember the most about this passage is the word lee.
I was already in senior high, studying for the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Ordinary Level, when I encountered this word. Even though I knew about Leeward Islands and Windward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean, I hadn’t the foggiest idea what lee meant! See, they teach you words but not always their derivation! So, in my high school Bible Knowledge Class, I learned this word, and tried to understand why the sailors had to hug the land, the coastline, so to speak. And since I had not yet experienced a real hurricane, the idea of such a ferocious storm was hard to grasp.
I’ve since been through many storms, actual and metaphorical, and I can sense now, how frightening it must have been for Julius, and the captain, and Paul’s fellow- travellers.
Paul was not afraid of the winds and the waves. The man had a one-track mind! He was headed to Rome to have his day with the emperor. God had promised him that much.
You know, the bible says that when a person commits his/ her way to the Lord, God grants them the desires of their heart (Psalm 37: 4-5). I still cannot figure out whose desire was greater – Paul’s to testify to the emperor et al about the power of God, or God’s desire for Paul to bear witness in Rome. But Paul had certainly committed his way into God’s hands; and given the frequency of his repetition that he had to go to Rome, to Rome it would be, by the grace of God.
He had earned favour with Julius, the centurion, who treated him kindly and let him enjoy his friends’ hospitality. So far, so good. But the boss would not listen to his suggestion that they postpone sailing since the voyage would be too dangerous. After all, Julius had the captain to guide. Where did Paul gain knowledge about sailing, sailing routes and safety measures? So, he ignored Paul, and into trouble they sailed!
Do we not pre-judge people and belittle their opinions and positions because we don’t know that they know! Not all confidence is over-confidence reflecting zeal without knowledge, you know. Tomorrow we’ll see that Paul’s assurance was by no means baseless. He was grounded in a source of knowledge that does not run out.