Acts 27: 16-19; 38
As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure, so the men hoisted it aboard. Then they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together. Because they were afraid they would run aground on the sand-bars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and let the ship be driven along. 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 they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea.
In this story we're studying in Acts 27, the boat Paul was on was a big boat – we read later that it carried 276 people on board, as well as all the cargo. grain and supplies.
Think about this. Before the storm, the most valuable thing on board that ship was the cargo. It was what would make the most money, it would be sold when they arrived at their destination.
But look at what happens:
“…they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands.” (v 18)
Then later in verse 38:
“…they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea.”
Once the storm hits, once things get desperate – they begin to differentiate that which is truly valuable from that which can be thrown away. Their priorities change.
Storms have a way of doing that. They make us realise what’s important in our lives and what isn’t maybe as important as we once thought it was. When you’re sinking you become ruthless about what you hold onto and what you throw away.
Apparently when the Titanic sank, 11 millionaires went down with it. One of them, Major A.H. Peuchen left $300,000 in money and jewelry in a box in his cabin. He survived and when he was later asked about leaving such incredible valuables on board and why he didn’t try to take them with him, he said this: "The money seemed a mockery at that time, I picked up three oranges instead."
It’s so easy to lose sight of what’s really important. To get focused on the here and now, and miss the big picture. There’s things you think you need, that you can’t live without – but ultimately they mean absolutely nothing.
Having had the privilege of sitting with many people in the last days and hours of their lives, I rarely hear them talk about their jobs or careers, how much money they earned, how big their house was or how important they were.
They talk about 2 things: family and God. In those moments, when all else is stripped away – family and God.
Maybe that’s why Jesus said that the greatest commandments were that we love God and love people. He’s saying that at the end of it all – that’s all that really counts. Is how we loved God – and how much we cared about others.
When everything else is stripped away – what really matters?
What is most important in your life right now?
It is stuff – or people?
Is it your career – or your family?
Is it pleasure and fun – or loving and seeking God?
Is it temporary things – or things that last?
If other stuff is taking up space and energy and time and commitment that we should be giving to God or to those closest to us – maybe we need to take the example of the men on this ship – throw it overboard.
Lighten the load you’re carrying. Chuck it.