If you’ve been on an airplane with intense turbulence, that is what these sailors on board with Jonah are experiencing, in their desperation they start praying to their gods, throwing cargo out of their ship to lighten their load (a last ditch move for cargo transporters). In the midst of the madness, the men look to…
Make a Course Correction (Jonah 1:5b-9) But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish. They started casting lots to figure out who was to blame and guess who got the short straw—Jonah. They started pumping him for more information—who are you? Where are you going? And are you in trouble?—He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” (Verse 11-The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”
Everyone on board is pretty scared for their life, except for Jonah who was sleeping. He didn’t seem particularly broken up about the situation. Not conscious stricken. Instead took the approach of trying to ignore reality, deny reality, but like an alarm clock blaring in the morning there comes a time where each of us have to wake up. HERE IS THE COURSE CORRECTION(verse 12) “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, ‘and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm had come up you.”
This can be pretty common when we are running from God? We don’t always feel bad when we are writing the rules for ourselves. Captaining our own course can be fun for a while. Maybe it brings a quick high, a ton of instant pleasure, even Scripture talks about people being so taken by sin that they are given over to their way of life that the little voice of truth and the law written on the human heart seems to erode away by the acidic nature of sin. We do our best to ignore the alarm. My wife always jokes that her brother was able to sleep through his alarm every morning for an hour even when the rest of the family was pounding on his door.
As Jonah set out “to flee” God—the Hebrew word for “to flee” comes out to “liberoah.” It draws us to liberation. This great escape from Jonah was supposed to set him free and instead he had become a prisoner to his disobedience and the elements. It is a story that plays out all around the world—but it is also a story people who attend your church and maybe even sit in your pew, dare we say possibly live in your house. One middle age fellow told me his story. For a while he was on the hunt for his Tarshish, the easy street of liberation. He went down the path of racking in huge sums of money by selling drugs, he had more money than he knew what to do with, but it came at a prison. The alarm clock was ringing. After spending some time in prison, he found his course correction through Jesus Christ and the cross.
There is a universal truth embedded within the confines our ship today—in times of trouble the sailors weren’t searching for what sounded good, they wanted what works! While sitting in prison, John realized that Tarshish was somewhere he had been running towards, but never actually could arrive. If you’ve grown up in church may just hearing that God tells us to be obedient in enough for you, but for the rest of us, I want you to see what comes to the forefront: God pursues Jonah, he pursues you and me, because His love, his covenant promise is that he would do what is best for us even when we don’t do what is best for us. God’s truth is the best way to live—not just into eternity, but in the here and now! God’s way is what works, it works through a oneness of marriage in a world of divorce, a view of finances as a tool rather than a slave to debt, it is the parenting as stewardship rather than as master, and it is service to God rather than distractions from God. Hebrews 11:25 shows us Christ decision, He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than enjoy the pleasure of sin for a short time. Jesus had the long-game in mind.
Is it time for a course correction in your life?
Where have you been looking for Tarshish and are supposed to be in Nineveh?
Where have you put the short-term gain ahead of the long-term goal?