Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.
Acts 27:35

Chapter 27 of Acts describes a voyage from Caesarea to Rome, with the whole ship and crew stranded for a time on the island of Malta. It reads rather like an adventure story as the ship is subjected to storms, a deserting crew, poor decision-making and general confusion.1 Paul is a prisoner on this ship, yet throughout the story loses neither his dignity nor his authority as a prophet of God. According to Caesar, Paul is heading to Rome to stand trial for his alleged crimes. According to Paul, God is sending him there to preach the gospel of Jesus the Christ. Paul's confidence in God's plan for him allows him to raise the spirits of all on board, thus ensuring they all survive. It would seem the mere promise from Paul that they will survive is enough to drive the crew and other prisoners into action to make sure it turns out that way.

This is how prophesy so often comes true. We hear someone say, "it will be this way" and then do all we can to make it so, because of our believe in the prophetic status of the speaker. This can work for good or for ill. Either way we need to be wary of our own power to shape the future. The lesson from Paul here is that we do have some say in our own futures, and are not just at the mercy of fate. By simply believing that there is a God who loves us and wants the best for us, we almost create that God, and through that creation can them do our best. It's a strange, complex relationship. We are both the created and the creator, simultaneously, and continuously. This is what it means to be in relationship—not just with God, but with anyone.

For us to see this, we need moments of stillness. In such moments we can realign ourselves to the world, and to God. This stillness is prayer. In the tumult of disaster Paul still makes the time to take bread, bless it and share it. Life is never so urgent that we cannot pause for a moment to thank God for the gift of life, at this very moment, perhaps the greatest adventure of all.

1 The story with commentary is nicely presented here, Navigating Life's Storms by Kay Burnett, 2020