There is a time in the lives of most people when they find themselves at the bottom. When we run into something too big or complicated for us to carry or fix ourselves, and we finally cry out to God. With me it was an attempt to win my wife back after drug addiction severed our marriage. I had tried all I knew to convince her I was a changed man but she wasn’t buying it. Finally it came time for me to hand it over to God. Once I told God, “you have to prove to her that I mean business,” she finally became convinced.
There is a story in the Old Testament named for a man by the name of Jonah. Jonah was a man God told to do something, but he decided he would run the other way instead. God told Jonah “go to Nineveh and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran toward Tarshish away from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, found a ship, paid the fare and went down into the ship.
The Lord brought about a great storm on the sea that tossed the ship to and fro. The storm was so great it started to break the ship apart but Jonah was down in the hold of the ship asleep. The captain of the ship confronted Jonah about him sleeping through this storm. He said to him “get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.” Even though the man told Jonah to call on his god it doesn’t tell us that he did. Sometimes we don’t even need to pray, because we already know the answer to our situation. Jonah knew exactly what was going on and he didn’t need to call on “his god” to find out. Most of the time we are like that too; we know what we are to do but we simply don’t want to do it.
Did you notice how far down Jonah went to get away from God? It says he went down to Joppa, down into the ship and down into the hold of the ship. He was pretty down. Have you ever felt like this is as far down as I’m going to go? Jonah was pretty far down, and yet he had not quite hit the very bottom yet. Sometimes we see people and think “how much farther can they go?” The only place left for them to go is death.
For me I battled addiction for years and there came a time when I thought I would rather be dead. I remember saying to a God I didn’t really know, “please let me die in my sleep.” I thought even if I did go to Hell it couldn’t be as bad as this life I’m living. I am so thankful God knows what he is doing. His plan all along was for me to get to the end of my trying to fix my problems and just let him have them.
Let’s get back to Jonah. Jonah was in the bottom of the ship and the men on board were getting suspicious of him. These sailors knew that this storm was something supernatural. They cast lots to see who was at fault for such a calamity and the lot fell on Jonah. They started questioning him about who he was and what God he served. The men became fearful because they found out Jonah was running from God; and the storm was brought on because of his disobedience. God has his ways of getting us where he wants us.
We all have storms in our lives. While we may think our disobedience isn’t hurting anyone but us it will cause pain or grief for others. I remember telling my wife “it’s my life I can do what I want; besides it isn’t hurting anyone else.” What I failed to see was how much damage I was causing her, let alone everyone else in my family. Even my other drug buddies stopped coming around me. When fellow drug users stop wanting to be around you, you know you have sunk pretty low.
The sailors ask Jonah “what should we do to you that the sea may become calm for us?” He 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.” Now everyone knows who the problem is and what to do to solve it.
Notice what the men did next. They rowed even harder trying to make it to dry land but could not. Isn’t that just like us? Even when the way or solution is clearly shown to us we want to give it another try our way. God has a way of setting things up to be impossible without him. He is a God of miracles and without him it isn’t going to happen. They did eventually throw Jonah overboard and the sea stopped raging.
When the time comes when we stop trying to do things our way and do what God says his peace will come. Afterwards the men feared the Lord greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows. These men didn’t even worship the same God as Jonah, but once they saw his miraculous dealings in Jonah’s life they paid him respect. This tells me that the miraculous things God does in our lives when we obey him may just show others who he is and lead them to him. We don’t know what became of those men after that, but we do know they had an encounter with the one true God. We may never know how many peoples lives are effected by ours, let’s make it count.
Written by Louie