27 When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment. 2 We boarded a ship from Adramyttium about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asia, and we put out to sea. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us. 3 The next day we landed at Sidon; and Julius, in kindness to Paul, allowed him to go to his friends so they might provide for his needs. 4 From there we put out to sea again and passed to the lee of Cyprus because the winds were against us. 5 When we had sailed across the open sea off the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia. 6 There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy and put us on board. 7 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.[a] 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.
As we read this story of Paul’s journey by ship to Rome as a prisoner, I am reminded of our current journey with Covid-19. The scriptures tell us that Paul’s journey was long, confined, scary, unexpected challenges, difficulties, dangerous, strong winds, large seas and a struggle. This must have been an unusually large storm to create this scary and treacherous journey as even the “professional” sailors were scared! Paul advises these frightened sailors that the journey is too treacherous and the losses will be great to the ship, the cargo and to the very lives of people on board. The sailors seem to be willingly listen to Paul, however the officer in charge, ship’s helmsman and captain are more interested in getting to Rome, whatever the cost. In this story, we also see the kindness of the Roman Officer, Julius, who cared for Paul, allowing him to go ashore and be refreshed by his friends in Sidon.
This reminds me that in challenging times all types of characters come out. Some are just scared and require reassurance. Some buy up all the toilet paper and hand sanitiser to make money off others less fortunate. Some leaders bringing a sound voice and wisdom. Other leaders are too focused on final results and money to compassionately consider the risks and lives of their people. Others are like the Roman officer, caring and loving in the journey. In our current Covid-19 journey – I wonder what or who can we be like. I hope that I am more like Julius, caring and considering the people around me, strengthening them and praying for them. May each of us make a difference in the lives of others in this season we are in.
Lord, I pray that you would give us eyes to see and ears to hear those around us in need. Help us to connect with people where we can be a sound voice and caring hand in this season.
Written by Ps. Sue Botta