“He [Jonah] said to them, "Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you." However, the men rowed desperately to return to land but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them.” Jonah 1:12-13 (NASB)
I was talking with my friend and boss, Cheryle Touchton this morning. We generally talk every Monday morning. It’s our staff meeting, but because we are also friends and sisters in Christ, we share personally as well.
Today, I testified about what I heard at a Stonecroft Conference this weekend and she relayed what her minister preached on during her church service on Sunday. We had a wonderful time discussing God’s word. We also found some interesting application.
I told her I was going to steal her thunder and write about this and she gave me her permission.
The pastor where she worshipped spoke on Jonah, chapter one in particular. He talked about knowing if you are in step with God and asked his congregation three questions:
• Are you moving in the wrong direction? (Remember Jonah ran from God at first)
• Who are you hurting? (Our actions do affect others, whether we like it or not!)
• Do you feel compassion for those you hurt? (A litmus test for conviction!)
Then he zeroed in on the sailors that were sailing in the same boat as Jonah. Jonah was called to Nineveh but was heading toward Tarshish. His was going in the wrong direction.
The storm that came upon the boat because of his disobedience affected all passengers and crew. Jonah’s actions put the sailors and others in danger.
However all was not lost as Jonah developed compassion for those he was hurting. He recognized his sin and knew what the solution was: he needed to go overboard. It was the only way to save the others.
Only one problem. The sailors. They kept rowing.
Apparently, these guys weren’t pirates so throwing someone overboard put them ill at ease. So they aimed to row to shore. The storm raged on. They just couldn’t be guilty of taking a man’s life, but the storm still raged. They desperately rowed toward shore. All to no avail. Finally when there was no choice, these rain-soaked, weather-beaten sailors chunked Jonah over with a sorrowful heave-ho! “And the sea stopped it’s raging.”(vs 15)
As Cheryle spoke, it sounded so similar to a message I heard this weekend about friends unintentionally being the devil to you. How? With all good intentions, showing compassion and love, sometimes our friends want to rescue us! Is that really so bad? Maybe not. Maybe so.
Our friends generally want to help us as we’d want to help them. They want to row, row, row the boat until it safely docks in the harbor and all feet are on dry solid land. They are the good sailors in our lives. Unfortunately good sailors sometimes enable us to stay in the boat and keep us unable from seeking God’s help on our own. There comes a time when a good sailor will toss you out of the boat and into a storm so the waters can rage no more, for them and you!
Now don’t ask me for a formula for when to toss and when to not! I am still learning! I do know that sometimes God definitely places people in our lives to help anchor us in the middle of a storm. No tossing there!
Other times we get so dependent on others, the best thing they can for us spiritually, is toss us over the side. Sink or swim. Letting God do the rest.
I guess it takes prayer to know the difference. It’s an important difference. For heaven’s sake, we don’t want to toss someone out of the boat and under a bus at the same time! Prayer – that’s the key.
Just this week, I’ve had to learn to toss a few things out of the boat – in essence turn them over to God. I could do no more and in all honesty, how could I do any less!
I hope this has meant something to you today. I will be pondering it for some time.
While you are about this day, what direction are you heading in? Are you hurting the ones you love? Is there anyone or anything you need to toss overboard? You are the one who needs to be tossed?
Just remember Jonah and the sailors while you row, row, row!