It’s not very often you find yourself right in the middle of a scene from the Bible. This is why we were surprised to find ourselves shipwrecked on the island of Crete. Yes, shipwrecked! This stuff happens in the Bible; it’s not supposed to happen to us. Let me explain.
As part of our current Central trip to Greece and Turkey, we found ourselves travelling between Europe and Asia on a boat. To be specific, it was a ship. Ok…technically, it was a cruise ship. This modern 12 story behemoth was created for the purpose of sailing from one end of the Mediterranean to the other without a care in the world. Ships these days are supposed to be indestructible. Let me assure you they are not.
All of this is to say that our ship was quite a bit different from the Mediterranean sailing ships of old. In those days ships were made of wood, not steel. They had no engines; they were totally at the mercy of the winds. Getting on one meant taking your life into your own hands. Just listen to the following as Luke describes what happened to Paul and his friends.
Acts 27:13-15 “When a gentle south wind began to blow, they saw their opportunity; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the Northeaster, swept down from the island. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along.”
Acts 27:18-20 “We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.”
Sounds rather dramatic, right? Good thing that things like this don’t happen today. Or do they?
Here’s our story…
A few evenings ago, we were anchored off the island of Patmos (yes, the Biblical place where John wrote the book of Revelation!). Although there was a very strong Northerly wind blowing, our ship’s captain felt we could make the island of Crete by sunrise if we left right away. So he decided to set sail. After a long night of being tossed and battered by the wind and waves, we made the mainland of Crete at sunrise, for the most part without incident. Then, numerous tugboats came out into the harbor to meet our ship and assist us as we docked. The wind and waves, however, decided they weren’t ready to give up doing us harm. As we approached the dock, we heard an enormous screeching sound and our progress ground to a sudden halt. (Okay…possible dramatic emphasis added!)
We didn’t hit a sandbar, we hit the dock. We hit the dock hard! We hit it really hard! So hard, that the side of the boat was dashed. Smashed. Crushed. Dented.
As our crew made an assessment of the damage, we were told that we couldn’t leave the island until repairs had been made to our ship. Much welding and cutting had to be done. They pounded on it for hours. In the meantime, we found ourselves unwillingly SHIPWRECKED!
After being helplessly stranded on Crete, and spending far more time on the island than we had ever intended, it was finally determined that the ship was once again seaworthy. If the repair held, we could make it to the mainland of Greece by the next morning. We set sail and about ten hours later arrived in Athens without further incident (more dramatic emphasis!).
Why am I telling you this? We often read the Bible like it all happened in a land far way in a distant galaxy to people very different than us. The truth is, the stories in the Bible are real, and happened to real people, in real time, in real places, and its truth can hit you hard. Really hard! It could all happen to you! Have you got the courage to get on the boat? You won’t believe the impact it will make!