- Tell how Jesus saved Paul from the storm.
- Feel assured that Jesus takes care of us in all kinds of scary situations.
- Praise Jesus for his power and care.
Today's story reminds us that even though Paul did an enormous amount of traveling, it was a risky thing. The ships in which he sailed were relatively small (about 100 feet or 30 meters long), and they navigated a vast ocean prone to contrary winds and sudden violent storms.
In this story, Paul is on his way to Rome, since he has appealed his case to Caesar. Early in the voyage, they're already experiencing tough winds, and Paul advises the centurion in charge to find a safe harbor. After all his journeys, Paul was probably more experienced at sailing the sea than the officer in charge. But this centurion ignores Paul's advice.
As they make their way through the Mediterranean, the ship encounters a violent storm with winds of hurricane force. Fearing they would run aground on some shoals, the captain directs the crew to throw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship.
For days on end they sail aimlessly, battered by winds and waves, never seeing the sun or the stars. Finally they give up all hope of survival. Paul again speaks to the centurion and the whole crew. Of course, he first allows himself an "I told you so," reminding them of his earlier advice, but then he goes on to encourage them. "Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve . . . said, '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'" (vv. 23-24).
After two weeks of ceaseless pounding, the ship approaches land, and though the sailors do everything they can to avoid disaster, the ship is in a dangerous spot filled with rocks. Some sailors connive to get away on a lifeboat, but Paul warns the centurion that all must stay on board to be saved. Essentially, Paul appears to be in charge at this critical point. After a night of peril and a final stirring speech of encouragement from Paul, the ship runs aground on a sandbar and begins to break apart in the pounding surf. All aboard swim toward shore, or grab whatever broken pieces of the ship they can. Just as Paul said, every soul aboard that ship is saved.
Ultimately this is not a story about a heroic Paul, though it's hard not to admire his steadfast faith and courage in the face of such trials. It's about God, who will accomplish his purposes no matter what the obstacles---a God who mercifully saves others along with his chosen instrument, Paul.
What is it about Paul that makes him such a commanding figure?
How did the author, Luke, know so much about sailing?
Why did the centurion want to save Paul’s life?
Don’t leave your preschoolers with the idea that it’s wrong to be afraid—there’s much they do fear. But remind them to look to Jesus when they’re scared. Confidence in Jesus’ loving care for them will become part of their growing faith foundation.
Welcome the children and gather them around you; ask them if they’ve had a good week since you were together last. Share with them something from your own week that was a bit scary for you—and invite them to talk about recent experiences that scared them too.
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DWELL helps kids find their place in God's Big Story. Learn more about this popular and trusted children’s ministry curriculum.