Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship.
But all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold.
When I read this the other day, my first reaction was, of course he was sleeping. Doesn’t it always seem like the person that creates the havoc can be oblivious to the impending wreckage? Sleeping away while others are scratching their heads and cleaning up the mess? Jonah was running from God, these people on the boat didn’t know Jonah or Jonah’s God, the storm hadn’t been predicted by the newscaster, the ETA for the ship had been announced and the people were settling in for what should have been a safe little boat trip to Tarshish. But then there is a twist in the tale; Jonah happened and the storm happened because of Jonah and the people were now freaking out because the storm happened because of Jonah running from God and all this time, Jonah sleeps through it.
It is so easy to think that it is all about me. I think that lots of times and surely Jonah is thinking that here. I don’t want to do things God’s way, I don’t want to hear what He has to say, it is all about me and so I will just run far, far away. I don’t get in a boat and try to get out of dodge, no, I don’t have to do that, I can just be busy, too busy, too focused on me and what I want to stop and consider God’s plan for the moment. Or worse, I can consider God’s plan for the moment and decide that my plan trumps His. After all, it is all about me, isn’t it? Or is it?
The problem with that thinking is that we don’t live our lives in a vacuum. Our lives touch and intersect with others, planned or unplanned. Others that may know nothing about our issue with God or even care. But our lives have the power to affect others or to infect others. Jonah’s clearly infected others this day, almost to the point of death and he was so wrapped up in his drama that how he touched their lives no longer mattered. Sad commentary for a prophet who had dedicated his life to speaking God’s word to people’s hearts.
Whether we are a prophet or a teacher or a mom or a friend, daughter, employee, sister…. our life touches others either for good or for not so good. Ignoring that doesn’t change it. Sleeping through the wreckage is only an option for so long. Sooner or later, the mess catches up with us.
Jonah owned up to his responsibility for the storm and you probably know the rest of the story. He is thrown overboard, swallowed by a great fish and then deposited safely onto dry ground. God calms the storm and the people on the boat were carried to their port safely. Jonah was given a second chance and this time, he carried out God’s instructions.
My takeaway from this is just this: there is no storm, regardless of cause, that God cannot quiet. Even if the storm is of my own making, it doesn’t change God’s love for me or His willingness to rescue me. Or you. Or His willingness to use me.
Father, forgive me for the times I have lived my life thinking it’s all about me. Open my eyes to the people around me that I am either infecting for bad or affecting for good. Use me, I pray to reach others with Your love and grace. In Jesus’s name, amen.
I would love to hear from you. Please let me know if I can be praying for you as well.