She just rolled her eyes. I’m getting that more and more from my 14-year-old lately! Sure, I had just used one of my old, worn-out Dad sayings, one of my favorites when I say that everyone would be happier if they would all just do as I say!
She thinks I’m silly, and I do mean it in jest most of the time. But I confess a part of me really does believe this! Oh, the arrogance of men.
But seriously, part of being wise is learning how to listen to wise words and not ignore smart advice when we get it.
Look at our lesson today in Acts 27:1-44; 28:1. We can’t read the whole thing, but I hope you get a chance to read the whole story. Here’s a relevant portion:
As they had been long without food, Paul then came forward among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and should not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. I now bid you take heart; for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and lo, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we shall have to run on some island.”
Let me set the stage for this part of Paul’s adventures. He has been arrested in Jerusalem. Since he is a Roman citizen, certain legal forms have to be obeyed, much to the chagrin of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem who wanted him killed right then and there. St. Paul presses his advantage as a citizen and appeals directly to Caesar in Rome. So, the Roman officials assign a guard to Paul and put him on a boat to sail to Rome for his audience with the Emperor.
They set sail and come to Crete, where they spend some time. Those running the ship decide to leave Crete, even after Paul had told them he had been warned that the ship, cargo, and even their very lives would be in peril if they left from the harbor now. Sadly, the Roman centurion listened to the captain and ship owner more than Paul, and they set sail.
And, sure enough, the storm hit the ship, and they resorted to starting throwing cargo overboard to try and salvage what they could. Days and days passed and they were too busy staying alive, battling the storm, to eat. That’s when Paul, calmly and peacefully, told them to eat and not worry because an angel had promised Paul would fulfill his calling to speak to Caesar, with this added promise, everybody will live IF they stay on the ship!
The story has a pretty exciting ending that I hope you read.
But what I hope you take away from this portion today is that being filled with the Spirit gives you a sense of calm even in the face of disaster. That calmness also sets you free to see clearly the right Path for your life. But not just for your life, the lives of those around you as well. It is so very important that we live out this kind of calm, peaceful existence because this world is usually just the opposite. Drama and bitter fightings, anger, fear, self-centered defensiveness all lead to short-sighted choices that seem to always create more drama and anger and all the like.
But the life of the Spirit practiced with the wisdom of the Faith tames all that passionate fuss, and turns fear into insight; turns drama into clear, peaceful action; and anger into energy that keeps me awake to God’s presence and promise and not the intoxicating blindness of rage or revenge.
Today, are you able to keep your head about you while others are losing theirs? The life of the Church after the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost is marked by those who allow God to fill them up with an intimacy with Him that settles their lives and sets them free to be Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Dear Lord, You are the Author of Life. You are the Only Lover of Mankind! And You sent the Holy Spirit to empower us to not just “hold” the Faith but to share it with the world! This focus, this clarity of vision and purpose reorients my priorities and actions, and choices so that my life becomes like Your Life. And that very process of salvation makes me more like You every day. Please help me remember this so that I will be a faithful witness to Your salvation. Amen.
A Blessed Feast of Pentecost to all this Sunday!