Ancient scriptures and ancient literature are full of harrowing stories of storm-tossed mariners. Even today, Hollywood is sure to make bank by selling drama filled stories of potential disaster and mayhem.
Why are these stories so compelling to so many millions of people across the ages?
Because these stories represent our own lives.
With God, We Are the Heroes of Our Life Journey
Our lives are an incredible hero’s journey of opportunity and challenge, pain and loss, and ultimately, discovery and redemption.
A journey on a storm-tossed sea represents, in a microcosm, our lives. In one single story we can find many of the themes and answers of our own journeys.
We might look at the journey undertaken by Nephi and his family. In faith he labored to build a boat. In faith he anguished in the storm-tossed sea of pain and consequences of other’s choices. In faith he steered the boat to the Promised Land.
Like Nephi we labor in faith to build the vessel of lives through choices, to cross the unknown expanse of life to reach the farther shore of the Promised Land, promised to us by God. Like Nephi we put our faith in God that he’ll steer us aright. Like Nephi we endure to the end, through faith in God, when our lives are storm-tossed because of the pain and consequences of our choices or the choices of others.
Or we can look to the Jaredites. Their faith sustained them to trust God in ships that were tight like until a dish with nothing to provide light except the miraculously shining stones touched by the all-powerful hand of God. Even though the Jaredites were often submerged by the fearsome waves, they sang their praises to God. They knew that when they were with God no monster of the sea could mar them.
Like the Jaredites we have symbolically been touched by the hand of God, to enlighten us with the gift of the Holy Ghost, lighting the way through a darkened journey. When we are sucked underneath the waves of life, our hearts are lightened as we express gratitude and sing praises for our blessings (even when hard or we don’t feel like so doing). Like the Jaredites, we trust that no monster, not even death and hell, can ultimately keep us from the Promised Land of God’s presence if we continue to have faith in God.
Paul and the Calculus of Lightening the Ship
What I love about the trauma and drama of Paul’s shipwreck narrated in Acts 27 is this:
“And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship” (v. 18).
What a gem of truth is tucked into this seemingly innocuous and often-overlooked verse. What is one of the most powerful ways to survive a storm at sea?
Lighten your load!
How many of us when suffering or struggling think to immediately lighten our loads? To throw overboard sin, anger, despair, pride. To cast off bad habits, erroneous thinking, failed dreams?
Why would we want to carry to the Promised Land anything from the past that would tie us to the past? Don’t we want to become new creatures in the Lord in a new land? Why would we harm or stop our development? Aren’t the stormed-tossed seas God’s blessing to us to change, to grow, to fully accept Him into our lives?
Can we truly arrive at-one-ment with God without the storm-tossed seas?
God cannot save those who don’t need saving.
I thank the Lord (in hindsight!) for my storm-tossed seas and the power, through Jesus, to lightening my load.
(For additional insight on the power of suffering, and the gospel-centered meaning of the word “suffer” see “Why Suffering Is Good for Us and How It Can Make Us Happy”.)
Want to see where the Acts of the Apostles took place? This free tool I created will show you where: https://scriptures.byu.edu/mapscrip.
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Looking for more great insights on the New Testament? Check out my new book available at Deseret Book Scriptural Insights and Commentary: The New Testament.
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