Surviving Shipwreck: Grace Greater Than Your Sin
Have you ever seen a ship that has been shipwrecked? It’s a ghost of a sight. Whether at sea or land, ships that suffer shipwreck are either sunken or run aground. They never sail again.
Paul likens our life to that of a ship at sea, which is carefully navigated by our faith in Christ. Storms come without warning, against which ships have no shelter. They are at the mercy of whatever winds blow and the deep waters that surge and swell about them. The same waters that hold them up also have the power to capsize and drown them. These conditions make ships exceptionally vulnerable. Knowing how to navigate the spiritual seas of your life requires skills only the Captain of your faith can teach.
When Christ walked upon the water, it was in the midst of a stormy sea toward a battered ship and his anxious disciples who fought to survive by a less-than-perfect yet tedious navigation. This miracle demonstrated His perfect Lordship by defying the natural laws that He might uphold the spiritual ones.
But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshiped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God, (Matthew 14:24-33, KJV).
Ships that suffer shipwreck are rarely (if ever) recovered in the natural world. Shipwreck is a catastrophe which has virtually no remedy. There is no resurrection for a sunken ship, and there is no sure way to remove a vessel cast into the ground. In fact, most vessels that run aground capsize. Yet in Christ, such statistics are proven false. In Christ all things are possible. He is our Redeemer. Just as Christ walked on water, He can resurrect your sunken vessel and again set on course what was capsized onto dry land.
How is this possible?
For those who are shipwrecked, there is a grace greater than your sin. And for those who are bracing the storm against such odds, there is an anchor of hope that is absolute, sure and steadfast, being able to hold you steady.
Have you suffered shipwreck? Has your faith come to a place that is irreparable? Have you taken a hit that has sunk you? Have you run aground? Have you found yourself at the mercy of a storm for which you were not prepared, or feel incompetent to navigate? Are you worried you’ve met your end? Are you afraid all has been lost? If you answered yes to any of these, this post is for you.
Before we progress further, let’s preface this post by making one thing clear: UNREPENTANT SIN HAS THE ABILITY TO SINK YOUR SHIP. We cannot afford to play with sin or treat it lightly.
The Assailing Storm
You’ve not been overcome. But you wonder how long you’ll last. This is when the storm hits and you find yourself mercilessly assailed. You are literally being tossed violently. Waves that crash into a ship can do it much damage. Walls of water that break against a ship can be like hitting cement. As a result, a broken ship can easily be submerged, capsize, or sink.
Any Captain will tell you that propulsion is the key to survival in the midst of a storm at sea. Yet trying to make headway here is not your strategy. Propulsion is necessary just to stay on top of the water, and to break the impact of the waves. It’s a steady force contrary to the current that brings stability. Without propulsion, the ship would be set adrift and suffer breakage. In other words – survive. The enemy is trying to sink your ship. Regardless of the storm and how it manifests in your life, your goal through propulsion is to achieve two primary things:
1.) Stay afloat (avoid submersion)
2.) Avoid being set adrift (avoid running aground)
This is where you learn how to ‘walk on the water’. Go forward. However, when propulsion is not enough and you find the wind and waves causing you to drift – you must know when to drop anchor. Drop it hard. Drop it deep. And allow enough slack for the chain lest it snap with the current.
The LORD has provided us a divine anchor. As one who suffered shipwreck on numerous accounts (see book of Acts), Paul describes this divine anchor concisely in the book of Hebrews:
For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself. Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order Melchisedec, (Hebrews 6:13-20, KJV).
Nothing is steadfast but God.
HE IS YOUR ANCHOR.
All things are possible with God – But it is impossible for Him to lie. His counsel is immutable. When everything around you is shifting sand and roaring waves, and when your ship is being tossed violently – He is your anchor. He has given you a hope that has already entered in – it’s an anchor for your soul. The promise is yours. So, please read this passage carefully. The hope which you have has entered into that place within the veil where Jesus has gone before you. That hope is your anchor.
JESUS CHRIST IS YOUR COVENANT HOPE.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand, (Ephesians 6:14, KJV).
My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Se’-lah, (Psalm 62:5-8, KJV).
Without question, Christ is well able to navigate you successfully through your storm. He will come to you on the water, and He will even bid you to get out of the boat. These are all excellent allegorical points. However, what about those times when you failed to drop anchor and you were shipwrecked? What happens then? These are the issues God wants to address today. Because I dare say, this post is for some of you who have been tempted to give up. And the truth is Jesus Christ cannot afford to lose you. You are valuable to the kingdom. You are not replaceable. When one member of the body suffers, the whole body suffers with it. Christ is not willing to lose any. He will leave the ninety-nine to search for the one that is lost. If that is you, I beg you to please read on.
Paul describes shipwreck in the book of 1 Timothy:
This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck…, (1 Timothy 1:18-19, KJV).
Paul mentions two things: faith and a good conscience. When these are compromised, we ultimately risk shipwreck. Now, I could spend time talking about the conscience here, but that is best saved for another post. However know this, when your conscience is not clear, or if it has been seared, then you are unable to discern accurately and it leaves you vulnerable. As for faith, this is not just about believing for miracles or coming to a saving faith in Christ. Faith is about doing the works of God. Faith without works is dead (see James 2:14-26). Our faith is proven by our works. Therefore, when faith and a good conscience are no longer intact, we are vulnerable to shipwreck. But when they are fully functioning by the Holy Spirit, we are spiritually healthy. By these we are enabled to war a good warfare.
Keep a clear conscience.
Fight the good fight of faith.
Therefore, shipwreck speaks to your personal devastation: You feel utterly destroyed. These are the moments that appear irreparable. They appear impossible. This is where you seem to have met your end. Your ship is either sunken or run aground, and regardless the cause, you need to know the verdict. So here it is:
What is apparent to the natural eye or mind is not a clear or trustworthy indication of truth. Only Christ can call it. He is the Judge. He is the Beginning and End. You may feel all has been lost. You may think it’s over. You may fear you’ve failed irreparably. You may feel you’ve suffered beyond any possible hope. However, whether you’ve been sunk or run aground, Christ has not left you without hope. He is still Christ. Your situation does not change who He is. He is able to resurrect. He is able to restore. He is able to redeem. He wants you to understand that He is able. And not only is He able, but He is willing. I know, because I’ve suffered shipwreck myself. And I never dreamed I’d be living the life I have now. Only Christ Jesus can make that happen. If He did it for me – He can do it for you. We serve a God of MIRACLES who holds all power in heaven and on earth. Nothing you serve up is beyond His redemption.
IT’S NOT OVER.
CRY OUT TO HIM TODAY.
HE WANTS TO RESURRECT YOUR SUNKEN VESSEL.
HE WANTS TO SET TO SEA THAT WHICH HAS BEEN RUN AGROUND.
For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord, (Romans 5:19-21, KJV).
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body, (2 Corinthians 4:6-10, KJV).
Christ calls every one of us to be fishers of men. You were created to navigate deep and broad waters in Christ. Smooth sailing is wonderful, but it’s not promised to any of us. The reality is there will be storms of many kinds which Christ calls you to navigate and overcome through Him. Remember, you are vulnerable out there at sea without your Captain.
Here are your three keys:
1.) PROPULSION – Always go forward. Keep steady and break the waves.
2.) WALK ON THE WATER – Stay afloat at all costs through faith and a good conscience.
3.) DROP ANCHOR – Never go adrift or run aground. Jesus Christ, who is your hope, is steadfast and sure.
I pray with all my heart that the next time you encounter a storm, you will find yourself prepared to navigate it with God. And if ever you find yourself shipwrecked — for whatever the reason — I pray you will discover the grace that is greater than your sin, and the “excellency of the power” that has overcome your most vicious enemies. Jesus Christ is both willing and able to fully restore and redeem you.
Cheers & Shalom,