Paul is still in the midst of a storm, clinging to life and encouraging those around him to have faith. God spoke to Paul and told him that he would testify of God’s grace before the Roman Emperor (Acts 27:24). Paul did not have an easy life after he become a follower of Jesus. The Bible mentions he was shipwrecked three times (2 Corinthians 11:25), but this on in Acts 27 is the only one we get any details.
While one man’s foolishness (Acts 27:1, 10, 11) put everyone’s lives in peril, the faithfulness of one man will keep the people alive (Acts 27:24, 25-26). Think of the umbrella effect; when one person holds the umbrella, several others are effected when they are near. One holds the umbrella while others are touched by its influence. Paul had an umbrella of protection because of his obedience in ministry.
There is another umbrella during a storm, a familiar character from the Old Testament, Jonah. You might recall how God called him to speak to the people of Nineveh, but he tucked tail and fled in the other direction. He booked passage on a ship that ran into a different storm. Consider Paul and Jonah:
- Both were men.
- Both were Hebrew.
- Both were preachers.
- Both were called to preach unpopular messages in powerful pagan cities.
- Both boarded a ship.
- Both experience a terrible life-threatening storm.
- Both men impacted the rest of the crew.
- Both men knew the key to the crew’s survival.
Now we need to see the contrast between these two men:
- Paul was compelled by his calling to go to Rome; Jonah was repelled by his calling to Nineveh.
- Paul faced obstacles on his way to Rome: prison, beatings, bad weather; while Jonah’s only obstacle was himself.
- Paul had to sit and wait for the Lord; Jonah stood and ran from the Lord.
- Paul felt the burden of responsibility for the crew (while the storm was not Paul’s fault); Jonah slept while the crew worked hard to survive the hardship that Jonah brought.
- Although both men were afraid and probably felt hopeless, Paul received a message form God. Jonah proved to be a coward. Why? Because he said that they needed to pick him up and throw him in the sea (Jonah 1:12). He never offered to jump in by himself. Sadly the pagan crew showed more godly character than God’s prophet (Jonah 1:13) because they still tried to save him and row back to land.
I believe that we all can relate to both men. Sometimes we respond in obedience like Paul; other times we tuck tail and run. The call of Jesus is to obey his commands (John 15:10-11). Notice that Jonah got a second change (Jonah 3:1-2) and although Jonah was ultimately obedient and surprisingly successful (Jonah 3:5), we don’t really see any hint of joy in his life. Paul seemed to suffer at every turn and he had more to say about joy than any other messenger of God.
Application: Under Jonah’s umbrella in the storm many people experienced calamity and hardship. Under Paul’s umbrella man found safety. So, is your sky rumbling? Are dark clouds gathering? Is there a storm on the horizon? If you are a child of God, you are called to hold the umbrella for those around you… your family, wife, kids, co-workers, neighbors. Are you listening to the commands of Christ and seeking ways to be obedient, or are you seeking ways to run? God has given the lives of those around you (Acts 27:24), how will you respond?