Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once! The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him. (Jonah 1:15-16 NLT)
God is so funny. Here is Jonah, a prophet, called to speak for God. God gives him an assignment, and Jonah decides he does not want this one. So he goes in the opposite direction. He literally walked away. His defiance is really pretty remarkable when you think about it. But God does not let him go. God follows him….chases him really.
Jonah boards a ship and trying to forget what he’s done, trying to feel better, he takes a nap. While we may be surprised, we each have our ways of ignoring what God is telling us to do. Napping, social media, TV, food, shopping, working….the list is very long. Maybe because he couldn’t look at Facebook, Jonah decides to nap.
In the meantime, God decides he is going to get Jonah’s attention, and he sends a huge storm. Funny thing is Jonah sleeps right through it. The storm, however, is not lost on the other people on the ship. They start praying, rowing, throwing cargo overboard, and questioning. They start asking what they had done to cause this. Everyone but Jonah, who is still asleep!
They wake him up and ask why he isn’t praying. Jonah isn’t praying because he knows the answer already. We do that too, don’t we? God makes a request. We don’t do it for some reason. We understand that we’ve done something wrong and so we stop praying. Humans.
Jonah begins to realize this is futile, so he tells them to throw him over, and the problem will go away. They tried to fix it themselves but couldn’t, so they threw Jonah into the abyss. Storm stopped. The ocean became calm, and their lives were spared.
The crew bowed and worshiped. They offered sacrifices to this new God they had just experienced, and they vowed to serve him.
And here is what I learned from this story. God wants us to obey, but even when we don’t, even when we mess up and go our own way, His glory will be revealed. He will still do what he wants to do. And what does He want to do more than anything? Show His children (ALL OF US) who He is. He wants to get our attention. He wants to draw us into a close relationship with Him, and He will use any means to do it. Including our mistakes.
Interestingly, God throughout this story continued to lead Jonah, work with Jonah and teach Jonah. Even though Jonah was being stubborn and really kind of belligerent, God did not give up on him. It’s good to know that He doesn’t give up on us either. Personally, I think I’ll try to obey because God has a million ways to bring His plan about. I’d prefer not to end up in the belly of a fish!