“Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” — Acts 27:24
My first name is Julius. In our Bible reading today, we are introduced to a centurion named Julius who is in charge of soldiers and the prisoner Paul. Parts of this story make me glad to have the same name as this centurion. Julius is often kind to Paul. But then there is the part where Julius does not follow Paul’s advice to stop sailing before the winter storm season.
A gentle south wind taking them out of Fair Havens soon becomes a hurricane. Day after day the storm wears on. After two weeks, as they approach land, some of the sailors try to escape. When the ship runs aground, the soldiers plan to kill the prisoners to keep any from escaping, but the centurion stops them, and eventually everyone safely reaches the shore.
In this world we often focus on some goal or agenda and pay little attention to the people around us. We excuse our self-focused behavior by aiming to get where we are going as fast as we can.
Paul knows he has to reach Rome, so he is focused on his destination, but he is also aware of the people with him on the trip. Following Jesus’ example, Paul cares for each one. He encourages everyone to eat, and he leads them in prayer, giving thanks to God. With God working in and through him, Paul is not distracted from witnessing for Jesus along the way.
Dear God, amid the hurry and storms of life, help us to be in step with you always. Wherever we may go, help us to love others along the way. In Jesus, Amen.