“Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish.” (Jonah 1:4–6, NIV84)
Have you ever wondered how far the Lord would go to show you how much he loves you? If the Lord truly loves you, wouldn’t He do anything He could to warn you that your heart is in the wrong condition and your life is going in the wrong direction? You see, I think we too often look at these acts of God and see them as punishment. I see them and see acts of mercy and compassion. For one man, Jonah, God affects creation itself. He calls upon the storms and the seas to do His bidding. He does all this while the prophet sleeps. Our God is willing to take the initiative in our relationship. He continues to pursue us with a heart of compassion, even if our hearts are far from Him. Listen to the words of his shipmates, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish.” It’s not the prophet who is spiritually attuned enough to know that God is directly connected to their experience. From God’s heart to Jonah’s, wisdom comes from foreign sailors who recognize the divine hand in all of this.
The consequence for running from God is that we also run from His Word and His will. We end up in a darker condition than when we began. At these times God has to go to drastic measures to bring us out of our darkened state. What amazes me is that God is willing to do things, like He did with Jonah, when we are being stubborn and defiant. Only the God of the Christian faith reveals a heart of love for the broken and sinful. He doesn’t lay before us a condition, “You do this, and then I’ll do that.” No! Even when we are unwilling and running away, He loves, pursues, and acts to save and redeem us. Look how much He did to draw Jonah from his darkness! Now, let’s look at how far He went to draw us from our darkness. He sent His Son Jesus (the Light of the world) into our lives to redeem and save us. “God demonstrated His great love for us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).
Today, let’s be comforted that God is unchanging. He has treated mankind, from the very beginning of time, with mercy and grace. He will go to great lengths to awaken our hearts to His truth.