On Monday we drove past an awesome collection of old tractors, crossed the railroad tracks in Edgar, MT, and then stopped at a farmhouse buried in sugar beets. We were headed southeast to Wyoming and the Big Horn Mountains, but first Laurie had to drop off some chocolate cake for Nickie, her daughter-in- law's mom.
"We're heading over to the Horseshoe Bend on the Big Horn to take the boat ride down the canyon. We'll let you know how it goes, and then you guys can try it."
All Laurie did was mention a boat and her friend didn't take long to decide. "No way!" Nicki replied, "You know how I am when it comes to water." It was clear that she would be perfectly comfortable plowing a field on a Farmall but was going to stay as far away from water as possible. When you can't swim, water can be petrifying.
As we move toward the climax of the Book of Acts, the Apostle Paul can't avoid the water and this is not the 72-mile reservoir stretching the length of the Bighorn Canyon. This is the dark and dangerous Mediterranean, which for first century sailing vessels was a threatening ocean.
In a vision God told his Apostle he would bring the Gospel to Rome, but Paul is in Caesarea and Rome is over 1400 miles away, and first century sailing ships can't take a straight course as the crow flies. It's going to be a long, dangerous sea voyage of more than 2000 miles, hopping from island to island.
"Now when it was decided that we would sail to Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion, named Julius of the Augustan Cohort. We embarked in a ship at Adramyttium (a city on the western coast of modern day Turkey) that was about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asia. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, accompanied us.
The next day we put in at Sidon; and Julius treated Paul kindly and permitted him to go to his friends and be cared for. From there we put out to sea and sailed to the lee of Cyprus because the winds were against us.
When we had sailed across the open sea off the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia. At Myra the centurion found an Alexandrian ship bound for Italy and put us on board. Sailing slowly for a number of days with difficulty we arrived off Cnidus. As the wind was not allowing us to go on, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. With difficulty hugging the coast we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea." Acts 27:1-9
On our excursion down the Big Horn Lake the 1000-foot cliffs on both sides were foreboding, but the water was like glass. As you just read, the Mediterranean was not behaving for Paul and his fellow passengers. When you're sailing, it's tough to have the winds against you, and when they finally arrive dock in Fair Havens, you can sense that the safest course would be to sit tight. Will the centurion decide to play it safe?
LORD, the Mediterranean was dangerous for first century sailors and Hurricane Harvey just demonstrated that the chaos of the sea and the wind is still murderous. Though Paul was a prisoner, thanks that you provided good friends on board and on land to care for him. And thanks for caring for our close friends who live in Houston, but pour strength and support into the hearts of the thousands facing devastating losses. I'm so thankful that as you conquered the darkness and the deep at the beginning of Your Story of Redemption, you promise that in your new earth there will be no more sea (Rev. 21:1).
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