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So, you will even use my rebellion?

Picture the scene of seas out of control - waves tossing you about like you were a pin pong ball on the surface of the water. The sailors, all highly skilled in their task of steering and controlling the ship with rudder, sail, and their knowledge of the seas - trying desperately to return to shore, making absolutely no headway as they attempt to navigate the churning waters. They look for a "cause" for their present circumstances. They seek out Jonah in the hull of the ship, having "discussed" their circumstances with each other, they were 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! Giving into the desire to be free of the circumstances and struggling with what may be an 'easy alternative' are common struggles for all of mankind. These sailors did what most of us forget to do - they prayed!

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." They took Jonah and threw him overboard. Immediately the sea was quieted down. 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)

God never ceases to amaze me with the many and varied ways he uses to get the message of his power and protection across to his creation. We often don't realize the means God will use until we look back "after the fact" and realize how much God was displaying his power AND his protection in our lives. It is in the "hindsight" where our hard-learned revelation occurs. 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 at that moment, but the seas are getting more and more miserable to navigate - they are at the end of their rope. 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 - the one he appears to be running from. 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. They turn to the God they really don't serve, but who seems to be in control of their present situation. Many times God uses circumstances to reveal himself - especially to those who don't know him personally already. God had asked Jonah to go to Ninevah because the people there were in need of him and here he stands in the hull of the ship, surrounded by sailors most likely in just as great of a need. 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 into 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 is possible!

They still don't want to throw their newest acquaintance overboard, but he seems to insist this is the only course of action. Look at how they seek to be forgiven even before they take their next step to do as he suggests. Jonah could have said, just turn the ship around, I am heading for Ninevah so God will make this storm quit. 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 in our lives - something we just cannot let go of, getting ourselves deeper and deeper into the thick of it as we continue to hold onto what we clearly need to let go of in the first place? I don't imagine Jonah is alone in his "firmness" of stubborn rebellion. In our rebellion, we frequently don't see any way of escape but to be consumed by that which is a result of our rebellion!

They all agree - it is time to 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 over the years! We cannot lose sight of what comes next - the sea does not consume Jonah. Herein is where we find 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! Just sayin!

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