Jonah 2: You Need to Sever Some Relationships
This is the second in a six part series of blog posts from the Book of Jonah. In verses five through sixteen of the first chapter the prophet tells us:
“In the midst of a violent storm, the sailors were afraid and cried out to various gods. They threw the ship’s cargo overboard to lighten their load whilst Jonah slept through the storm. They decided to cast lots to see who to blame for their predicament, and the lot fell on Jonah. 'Where are you from? And what’s your business?' they inquired. To which Jonah answered, 'I am a Hebrew, and I worship the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land. I’m here because I’m running away from God.'
“'Look what you’ve done,' they cried. Then the captain approached, 'How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god. Maybe your god will be able to intervene so we won’t perish.'
"The storm was growing worse, so they asked, 'What can we do to calm this sea that’s rising against us?' Jonah answered, 'I know I’m to blame for the storm you face. Throw me into the sea and it will quiet down for you.' So they picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging. The men were awestruck. They fell to their knees to worship Jonah’s God and vowed to serve him only."
Is the world around you in turmoil? Is there a storm in your home, at your job, or even in your church? Is there too much drama in your life? You don’t need to cast lots to see who’s to blame. Just look for who’s defiantly sinning. Look for someone around you who’s living outside the will of God and oblivious to the storm they’re causing.
Don’t expect smooth sailing if someone in your midst is secretly contending with God. And don’t think you can keep sinning and not rock the boat for others around you. Jonah knew he was the problem because he knew he was out of God’s will. It’s no different when you come to your senses and realize you’re out of the Lord’s will. In a case like that, you inherently know what to do. The question is: Will you do it?
If you’re causing strife, you need to repent… or leave; unless, of course, your strife comes out of confronting evil. Certainly God will use you and eternally compensate you for combating evil, though perhaps at the cost of your personal comfort, reputation, or even your life. Just make sure you’re generating righteous strife, or there will literally be Hell to pay for your folly.
If you’re dealing with strife generated by a sinful selfish friend, neighbor, employee or co-worker, even a family member, you have to throw them overboard. If God can’t reach them through you, and you still insist on keeping them in your boat, you’re both going to sink. But that isn’t necessary. God only inflicts suffering on the righteous when they’re in close proximity to the object of His wrath. Let the potter have unfettered access to His clay. Clear the deck and let God deal with who he needs to shape or reprimand in the sea that he has already prepared for them. Simply get out of the path of God’s fire and brimstone.
God has a destiny for you, whether you’re a sailor or a stow-away. Don’t fight prevailing winds. Let the Holy Spirit breathe into your sails and guide you home. When Jesus stepped into the apostles' boat, the sea calmed. First, throw contentious strivers overboard, and second, make sure you invite Christ into whatever you've gotten yourself into.