“IF YOU WANT TO LIVE, THROW ME OVERBOARD!” cried Jonah, as each wave grew higher and higher, crashing against the vessel. With each wave, the ship groaned and creaked louder, signaling that it could not hold much longer. “Lord, forgive us of this man’s death!” the sailors shouted as they tossed him into the raging sea. Jonah surfaced; instantly the waves stopped and the water was still. But wait, what was that Jonah saw as he bobbed in the water?
Jonah saw a great fin breach the water for a second. It breached again, closer to him this time. Then again, even closer. Something bumped him from underneath the water. Another bump. Can you hear it? The sounds of “JAWS”: duunnn dunnn… duuuunnnn duun… duuunnnnnnnn dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun!
Personally, as one who only gets about ankle-deep in the ocean, I cannot imagine a more terrifying scenario. After reading Jonah 1-2, I saw that the Lord powerfully pointed out that His purpose will be accomplished, with our obedience or without. The last part of Jonah 1:3 says, “After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.” Take a look at the beginning of that sentence again: “After paying the fare . . . .” it cost Jonah to disobey, and he paid greatly for his disobedience. Let’s dive into (see what I did there :)) a few of the details chapters 1 and 2 give us regarding how Jonah paid for his disobedience:
- actual money (Jonah 1:3b)
- the humiliation of having to confess to his fellow sailors what he had done that put their lives in danger (Jonah 1: 4-11)
- being swallowed alive (Jonah 1:17)
- the unimaginable experience of surviving in the fish’s stomach for 3 whole days. We can only guess at what that must have done to his body. I would assume that it included ruptured eardrums as the fish dove down into the depths of the ocean. (Jonah 2:3-6) The motion sickness coupled with the smell of partially digested marine contents probably induced vomiting. Lastly, can you imagine the intense, oppressive darkness and overwhelming claustrophobia? He probably couldn’t breathe due to the intense fear.
- Did I mention being swallowed alive? Just making sure.
This had me thinking, what in my life am I making more difficult than it has to be? What am I not being obedient in, causing extra hardships that wouldn’t be there if I would just obey?
Another sobering thought is that God didn’t have to save Jonah from those terrors. He very easily could have let Jonah die, several times, and instructed someone else to preach His word. How much disobedience is too much before God decides not to use us as His disciples anymore?
After Jonah prayed a prayer of repentance, God commanded the fish to vomit him up on dry land. (Jonah 2:10) Then our loving Father allowed Jonah a “do-over.” Jonah 3 starts with the Lord again commanding Jonah to go to Nineveh to tell the people their city will be destroyed unless they repent.
Join with me in confessing sin and disobedience to the Lord.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness. Psalms 103:8
Let’s make it easier on ourselves and stop fighting Him with our disobedience, while we still have a chance.
About the Writer:
Natalie is a stay at home mom to two young boys. Additionally, she occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and is studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. She and her husband have been called into the medical mission field and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for their lives.