Did you ever stop to think about those other guys in Jonah's boat?
Okay. Technically Jonah was the other guy on their boat, but stick with me here. All my life I have heard the story of the guy running from God who got swallowed by an enormous fish. But his actions didn't happen in a vacuum. After all, Jonah's disobedience brought with it some pretty serious consequences, and he wasn't the only one that felt the blow or who suffered the destructive impact. As a matter of fact, at first, the other guys on the boat were more gravely affected than the guilty party himself -- who was off sleeping soundly deep down in the boat.
The sailors -- los marineros -- were just going about life as usual when Jonah showed up bringing his mess into their lives. (Jonah 1:1-16) this wasn't just an irritating inconvenience, but a major and sudden disruption that threatened their physical lives, caused them great economic loss, and could even destroy their future if the merchant vessel indeed broke to pieces in the tumultuous sea.
We're talking life-altering circumstances -- and all as a result of somebody else's disobedient mess.
How did the sailors react?
First, their fear response caused them to look to the wrong source to save them -- each called on his "own god." When that did nothing to change the ferocity of the storm, they looked to their own reasoning by tossing their trade cargo into the sea to lighten things up a bit. When this still did not calm things down, they looked for someone to blame. They drew straws and Jonah was left holding the guilty stick.
Their next question to Jonah is classic: "What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?" Yet even when Jonah admits his guilt and instructs them in the unthinkable steps they must take, they did not concede. Instead of throwing him overboard to what they knew to be certain death, they resorted once more, with all their strength, to try to get themselves back to safety.
But they could not do it,
Only then did the sailors surrender. I don't mean surrender in a fatalistic or complacent sense. After all, we should take opportunity to evaluate every life-storm we find ourselves in, and to ask God to show us what we are to do in the situation. Sometimes He shows us that it's our mess and we need to take certain corrective actions. At other times He is silent for reasons we can't understand and we must endure the storm. While at other times He helps us to see that we are caught in the effects of somebody else's troubles, yet it's not our place to help Him fix things for them -- even if that would make life easier for us.
The sailors did their best to change things for their advantage, but when they could not, they stopped fighting and surrendered to God's will for the situation. They called upon God, they asked for forgiveness, and finally, they obeyed. And as soon as Jonah disappeared into the sea... God provided.
He provided for everyone on that boat.
God provided for Jonah -- the guilty one who confessed.
God provided for the sailors -- who accepted their inability to save themselves.
Are you in a storm? Your storm. Somebody else's storm. It doesn't really matter. Are you trying to hold things together in your own power? Have you looked for the guilty party only to find that it didn't resolve anything? Or are you surrendered to OBEDIENCE -- the obedience OF TRUSTING GOD -- regardless of the source of the storm, regardless of the outcome, regardless who is at fault?
OBEDIENCE CALMS THE STORM.
1) Disobedience to God always affects more than just the guilty one.
2) Our own strength (reasoning & knowledge) is never sufficient to overcome the messes of life.
3) The instant we turn to God, seek His forgiveness and trust Him, He provides the salvation we need.
Rod & De Ishmael
(A devotion shared with the hospital staff recently.)
Thank you, faithful prayer partners and financial supporters for allowing us to serve and work here in Guatemala. Support and contributions for the work here may be sent to:
Crescent Lake Christian Center
1250 St. Louis Ave.
Excelsior Springs, MO 64024