“Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.” – Jonah 1:12.
On the surface, being asked to be thrown into the sea seems a strange solution for the problem that Jonah was facing. Follow the timeline. God tells you to go to Nineveh. You don’t want to do it, so you run away. Instead of going where God wants, you go on a vacation cruise. God sends a huge storm, which threatens your life and the lives of everyone on board. The crew finds out the storm is because of you, and they ask what can be done about it. What is the logical answer?
The logical answer is, “Turn around! Head the other direction. Take me to Nineveh. That’s where God wants me to go.” But Jonah tells them to throw him overboard into the sea. It would seem that Jonah would rather die than go to Nineveh. We do not know if he could swim or not, but in a storm like this, it would not matter. Throwing a man into a storm like this is essentially putting that man to death by drowning.
What is more surprising still is looking at this from the viewpoint of the sailors. They were pagan, idol worshipers. But they are hesitant to throw Jonah overboard so they try to row back to land. “Instead, the sailors rowed even harder to get the ship to the land. But the stormy sea was too violent for them, and they couldn’t make it.” (Jonah 1:13)
They cannot make it to land, and the sea gets more violent. So they finally do what Jonah asks. But first, they do something rather surprising. They pray. Before they throw Jonah overboard to his death, they pray to God. They know He is in control of the storm, and hope that He does not hold them accountable for killing one of His children.“Then they cried out to the Lord, Jonah’s God. “O Lord,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O Lord, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.” Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once! The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him.” (Jonah 1:14-15)
They are obeying a God they know nothing about. In response to their actions, in response to their prayer and throwing Jonah overboard, the raging sea grew calm. They were awestruck by the Lord’s great power and vowed to serve him.
Unbelievers may believe when we finally do what God wants us to do. Look at the sailors. They’ve seen the storm immediately stop. They were awestruck by God’s greatness and they worshiped God. And they offered a sacrifice to God, and they made vows. They made promises to God, “God, we’re going your way from now on.” The whole ship is converted. When you start fulfilling your mission, people around you that you never thought would be believers in God or Christ, are going to come to Christ. It just happens. Because, all of a sudden, they see that you are walking in calmness, not in stress, and not in a storm. And they go, “Whoa, I want that in my life.”
- How can your mission in life impact unbelievers?