Once there were two preachers.
One man had already been following the call of God for quite some time. He’s currently been enduring a trial where he has been bounced around to several different audiences and officials for over two years. He’s innocent, but because he’s been preaching the message God told him to preach, he has been beaten, jailed and hated by many of his listeners. Some high ranking officials even think he’s gone crazy. Still, he trusts God even as he (as a prisoner) knowingly boards a ship that will most certainly result in his execution. He is going where God is sending him, and there’s a storm brewing on the horizon. It doesn’t look good for preacher number one.
The other man has been minding his own business, just living his life-waiting for something to happen. It’s not like he’s never heard or heeded God’s call before. Of course he has. He’s one of God’s preachers, after all. That being said, he’s about to get a call from God that he wishes he could un-hear. And because he doesn’t like his target audience or the message he’s supposed to give, he does something unexpected. He gets on a ship that’s headed in the opposite direction of his mission. It looks like he’s gotten away with going A.W.O.L. on God. He’s sound asleep in the hold of the cargo ship, and things are looking pretty good for preacher number two.
Advice in the storm
Preacher number one stood face to face with the pilot and the captain. There was a very big storm coming. In fact, it was the kind of storm that you could feel in your bones. Everyone was giving advice, including the preacher. “I advise you to wait and winter here instead of trying to go through this storm. I perceive it will not go well.” The captain was not persuaded by the preacher and chose to take all 276 souls headlong into the storm. Soon, they were smack dab in the middle of the worst storm they had ever seen. Along with the cargo, the tackle, the wheat, and the anchors, eventually, they even threw all their hope overboard as well. But because preacher number one was following God, he had favor and he encouraged all of the men. God had told the preacher (through an angel) that he would not die. Not only would he be spared, but not even one hair on the heads of any of the men would be harmed. All of the crew and prisoners would swim to a tiny island (with every hair intact) where they would winter for the next three months.
Preacher number two is rudely awakened by a desperate question from the captain, “Why are you sleeping? Call on your God to save us!” The ship’s crew had been in total panic mode, throwing supplies and tackle, and anything heavy into the sea. They were in the middle of a storm and it was ravaging the ship. After exhausting every possible human effort, the captain had shouted, “Everyone, call on your gods for help! Perhaps, one will hear and save us!” Preacher number two rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and followed the captain to where the rest of the crew was. He said, “It’s me. I’m the reason for this. Throw me overboard and the storm will stop!” He wasn’t convincing anyone. The preacher insisted, “Look, I’m running from the true God, and He’s angry with me. If you throw me overboard, you will live.” They all looked at each other in horror as they realized the preacher was indeed running from THE LORD. So, they did the only logical thing they could do, they prayed for forgiveness and threw a human being into the sea. As soon as the preacher was thrown from the ship, the storm stopped, the sun came out, and every one of the crew dropped to his knees and vowed to serve the LORD from that moment on. (Jonah 1:16)
If you haven’t guessed, preacher number one was the Apostle Paul (Acts 27), and preacher number two was the Prophet Jonah.
Do you see the overflowing favor on Paul, the obedient servant of God? It was God’s favor for Paul that the other 275 men were physically saved. The only reason they suffered any loss at all was because they did not take Paul’s advice in the first place.
On the other hand, Jonah’s disobedience (to God) was the reason for the storm that caused great loss and chaos.
Our lives are really no different from those giants of faith that we read about in the Bible. Our ministries may be varied, but, as Christians, we have been given the same call by Jesus to go and preach (Mark 16:15). As we do this in obedience, to whomever and wherever, our cup will overflow with favor onto those around us. In contrast, if we choose to run from the call of God, we will leave a legacy of hardship in our wake.
We’re all preachers. Which one are you?
Thanks for reading!