A MEMORIAL WEEKEND SERMON (2013)
On this Memorial Day weekend, I want you to imagine two scenes. First, picture a peaceful tropical beach resort, yourself lying in a hammock with a cold drink and good book. Seagulls are squawking and the sounds of the surf provide a relaxing soundtrack. Feel the sun warming your neck, and the gentle breeze keeping you cool. Peace and serenity abound.
Second, now picture a boat being tossed violently in the stormy waters of the open sea. Waves 30 feet high are crashing over the bow, and flooding the deck. You’re stumbling around on deck, bailing water, and doing everything possible to keep the ship from going down. Which scene best describes your life these days?
Or, consider two different kinds of umbrellas. The first person is relaxing at the cabin under a giant umbrella on the beach, the kind that provides a little shade from the hot summer sun. The second person is hiding under a rain umbrella, as the skies pour down cold rain on the fun you hoped to have this holiday weekend. Which umbrella are you holding in your hand in this particular season of your life?
The story we’re looking at today in Acts 27 is about Paul being shipwrecked on his voyage to Rome where he’ll stand trial before Caesar. The narrative is filled with action, drama, power, emotional angst and stress, as well as heroic faith, bold leadership and God’s rescuing presence. Let’s dig in!
—Read Acts 27—
The phrases in the text give a colorful description of the struggles we all experience at times: “The winds were against us” (v. 4) and “We were having great difficulty” (v. 7). We all have those moments when it feels like we’ll never get a break, we’re swimming up stream, going against the currents of life.
“We were making slow headway” (v. 6) and “Much time had been lost” (v. 9). Ever feel like its too late for you? Like time is slipping away and you’ll never find “the one” and get to start a family? Or, you’re pushing 40 years old and you still haven’t found your calling in life?
“We were caught in the storm…we gave way to it…we were being driven along” (v. 15). Ever feel like you’ve lost all control, and you’re just being driven along? Do you know what it feels like to finally just give up fighting and just give yourself completely over to your monster, your addiction, your weakness or temptation?
In verse 17 it describes how the crew were desperately trying to put ropes and cables around the ship, to prevent the whole thing from breaking apart. Do you ever feel like your family or career or emotional health is coming undone and the entire thing could break apart into a million pieces never to be restored?
“We took a violent battering” as the “the storm continued raging.” Will this awful nightmare ever end? How long must I stay in this miserable place? Will the sun ever shine again in my life, will the waves ever be calmed?
When hope vanishes completely behind the dark clouds of the storm, we are in danger of giving up. “We finally gave up all hope of being rescued.” Have you ever been there?
So, I want to ask the question today: How do you get through the storms of your life? We’ll all face them. In this story, in verse 29 it says,
“Fearing that we were about to be dashed against the rocks, we dropped four anchors and prayed for daylight.”
Today I want to offer up four or five anchors to throw out to keep you from dashing against the rocks in your storms. Continue reading SERMON: Navigating Life’s Storms