Jesus warned us that “the gate to destruction is wide, and the road that leads there is easy to follow. A lot of people go through that gate” (Matt. 7:14 CEV). Why is the road so wide? To accommodate the vast number of people who walk that way. We always make a mistake when we follow the crowd! But that’s what happened on board Paul’s ship when “…most of the crew wanted to go to Phoenix…” (Acts 27:12 NLT).
The crew was also led by circumstances. Verse 13 says: “When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete” (NKJV). The south wind blowing softly sounds so inviting. But circumstances are unreliable and can change without warning.
As Christians, we must know from the Holy Spirit what to do instead of following unreliable circumstances! Look what happened after the soft blowing wind lured the crew of that ship out to sea: “But the weather changed abruptly, and a wind of typhoon strength (a “northeaster,” they called it) caught the ship and blew it out to sea. They couldn’t turn the ship into the wind, so they gave up…” (vv. 14-15).
When we are led by our reasoning, circumstances, or anything other than the Holy Spirit, we can get ourselves so far off center that the devil will try to convince us that it’s hopeless; that we’re too far gone to get back on track. If we continue to think like that, we will continue to be carried further off course.
Sometimes it appears that things can get out of control rather quickly and seem impossible to turn around. That’s when people become hopeless. Notice how desperate the circumstances looked to those on board this ship: “Then, when for several days neither sun or stars were seen and the terrific gale still harassed us, the last ray of hope was now vanishing” (v. 20 Weymouth).
Paul informed the crew that an angel had stood before him and guaranteed their lives would be saved. That was encouraging, but not because the circumstances looked any better. There was no physical evidence that anything had changed. But an angel of God had spoken to Paul. Now the apostle had the crew’s attention! Doubt was replaced by hope! Notice what the angel told Paul: “Don’t be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar!…” (v. 24).
Paul had a God-given assignment that he knew he must fulfill. Nothing could stop him, not human reasoning, not the crowd, not circumstances, not even the experts. It was clear to Paul that he had a divine appointment in Rome and nothing would deter him.
The same is true for us. When we know our God-given assignment, nothing will detour us. Knowing our assignment gives us confidence that God will move Heaven and earth to make sure our divine appointment is kept. Human reasoning won’t stop us; circumstances won’t hinder us; and the opinions of others, even the experts, won’t influence us, as long as we know what God has assigned us to do.