Acts 28:11-16: ‘And so we came to Rome.’
“11 After three months we put out to sea in a ship that had wintered in the island – it was an Alexandrian ship with the figurehead of the twin gods Castor and Pollux. 12 We put in at Syracuse and stayed there three days. 13 From there we set sail and arrived at Rhegium. The next day the south wind came up, and on the following day we reached Puteoli. 14 There we found some brothers and sisters who invited us to spend a week with them. And so we came to Rome. 15 The brothers and sisters there had heard that we were coming, and they travelled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these people Paul thanked God and was encouraged. 16 When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him. ” NIV
What a simple, little phrase: ‘’And so we came to Rome’’ (14). It had been a torrid journey, fraught with danger and difficulty. Yet God had providentially cared for His ambassador, and everyone else on the ship. If God intends a destination for you, you will get there, no matter what storms you may encounter on route. Ultimately, of course, all believers will finally be brought safely home to heaven, though we may have to traverse many a rough sea before we arrive. God’s care for Paul continued. Although the Alexandrine ship, on which he travelled the final leg, had pagan gods as a ‘’figurehead’’ (11), there is no doubt as to Who was the Captain of Paul’s ship, and the Master of His destiny. It is ‘’the living and true God’’ (1 Thessalonians 1:9) who gets him there safely; and once He is there, He again providentially orders his circumstances (16). (I believe He was also arranging the movements of Roman soldiers who needed an appointment with Paul! Who was most captive, and who was most free in that situation, I wonder?!!)
There is something wonderfully refreshing and encouraging about encountering fellow Christians (15), and perhaps never more so than when you run into them in a foreign land. Recently, Jilly and I were on holiday in the mediaeval hill-top village of St. Paul de Vence, near Nice. Nothing brought so great joy to our hearts on that trip than to meet with a group of Christians one Sunday morning: ‘’As for the saints in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight’’ (Psalm 16:3).
‘Even an apostle needs to be encouraged at times, and the saints who met Paul did just that. The group at Appii Forum travelled about ten miles farther than the other group. How far would you go to encourage a fellow believer?’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word,’ p.728.
PRAYER: Lord, I know how much a word, or deed, of encouragement can do for me. Please enable me to be an encourager of others – not waiting to receive, but looking to give.