14 Then they prayed to God, "O God! Don't let us drown because of this man's life, and don't blame us for his death. You are God. Do what you think is best." 15 They took Jonah and threw him overboard. Immediately the sea was quieted down. 16 The sailors were impressed, no longer terrified by the sea, but in awe of God. They worshiped God, offered a sacrifice, and made vows. (Jonah 1:14-16 The Message)
The seas are out of control. The sailors, all skilled in their task of steering and controlling the ship, tried desperately to return to shore. They had "discussed" their circumstances with Jonah, being told by him that he was clearly the "cause" of their present danger. Yet, they choose to attempt any other alternative than what he proposed. His proposal - throw me into the sea. I don't know about you, but I have been asked a few time to "throw someone under the bus", but I find the internal struggle with this whole concept just a little unnerving!
In all their efforts to escape whatever calamity awaited them if they remained in the storm, they return to Jonah one more time. His answer is the same - throw me overboard. Not exactly the answer I am sure they hoped for. They are in a quandary and the only option they have is to PRAY!!! Imagine that! So, they turn to the one they "think" might be willing to listen - the God of Jonah. After all, it his God which is responsible for the sea's upheaval - at least according to Jonah.
Let's see their prayer a little closer. First - they turn to the God they really don't serve, but who seems to be in control of their present situation. Even in Jonah's running away from God, God is using him to touch the lives of people! How is it God can use even our disobedience to speak to the lives of others? I don't really fathom how he does it, but I see it recorded for me over and over in scripture - so I believe it!
Second, they still don't want to throw their newest acquaintance overboard, but he seems to insist. So, they seek to be forgiven even before they take their next step. Jonah could have said, just turn the ship around, I am heading for Ninevah. It is quite possible his repentance could have calmed the seas. Nope, he insists they throw him into the crashing waves. Why do we find our rebellion such a stronghold? I don't imagine Jonah is alone in his "firmness" of rebellion. In our rebellion - we don't see any way of escape but to be consumed by that which is a result of our rebellion!
Last, but not least, they trust Jonah's God to do what "he thinks best". Heathen men, praying to the divine God of the Universe, trust him to "do what he thinks best"! Now, isn't this awesome? God immediately calms the seas and they all stand on the deck of the ship, totally amazed at the power of Jonah's God. I wonder how many actually had the seed of salvation "planted" that day? The power of God on display - the hearts of men changed forever!
I don't encourage our rebellion, but I am encouraged God can use even our rebellion as an instrument of grace in the life of another. In the openness about my own rebellion (running from God), others have been touched by the grace of God. I can only imagine how many times God has used our "cumulative" rebellion! We cannot lose sight of what comes next - the sea does not consume Jonah. Here's our hope - our sin may get us into some pretty wicked messes, but it need not consume us! In our rebellion, God even provides for OUR protection! Run as we might, God still watches over us! Thank you, Lord!