Today I read Jonah as part of my reading plan. I think Jonah is one of those stories that many people like, particularly because we can relate to his tale. Many of us have run from God. Perhaps we ran because we were afraid of what God would ask of us. Perhaps we didn’t want to submit to His calling on our lives. Perhaps we fail to see God’s authority over our lives so we run away from His will. Or, perhaps, if we’re as honest about ourselves as Jonah was, we don’t want to see certain people come to know Christ. Earlier this year, I did a couple posts on The Storms of Life, and I thought I’d add another one that really jumped out to me today.
In 1624 a man named John Donne wrote that “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…” Too bad these words were written long after Jonah ran from God. Today, perhaps for the first time, I really understood that when Jonah ran from God, he wound up on a boat with a whole crew (Jonah 1:3). Jonah, in the midst of his rebellion and folly, was not alone. There were lots of other people on the boat with Jonah! Now, all the other people who are on the boat are about to have an encounter with God they’ll never forget.
I think it’s easy for us to focus on Jonah. We seldom think about all the other people what were on that ship, too. They were terrified and lost many of their possessions (Jonah 1:5, 10); they were in anguish over whether or not they should throw Jonah overboard (Jonah 1:12-14). They even fought to save Jonah (Jonah 1:13)! They tried to save the guy that almost got them all killed!
We all know what happens: they throw Jonah overboard (Jonah 1:15) and the fish swallows Jonah (Jonah 1:17). The rest is history…
Our Folly, God’s Glory
But what about the other dudes? I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone talk about them before. Particularly, I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone mention the fact that, after their night with Jonah, they starting worshipping God (Jonah 1:16).
I think it’s important for us to realize that when we rebel against God, we seldom do it without causing others to suffer in our storm. No man could have an addiction to porn that doesn’t affect his entire family as a result. No divorce doesn’t affect the children for the rest of their lives. No one could commit suicide without leaving a permanent mark on their family and loved ones. Even smaller sins, like stealing a candy bar from a 7/11, can have secondary and tertiary effects on other people. This is why it’s important for us to walk blamelessly before God and men, because when one Christian sins it affects the entire Church (1 Cor 12:26).
I also think it’s amazing that God will use our folly and rebellion to draw innocent bystanders to Him as well. God is able to use man’s rebellion to bring glory to Himself (Gen 50:20). Our God is an amazing God and I pray that I won’t be rebellious; but I pray that even if I am, He will still use me for His glory.
(For some great content about Jonah, check out the Jonah series at The Resurgence.)