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Even in our rebellion

I just want to take a moment or two to remind each of us that God isn't done with us, even when we find ourselves in worst of places in life, our choices perhaps not the wisest. In the midst of our disobedience, God never stops finding ways to get to our heart - he uses all of this earth's and heaven's resources to reach the recesses of our hearts. The many and varied ways he uses to get the message of his power and protection across to his creation is not limited by the finite because he has access to the infinite. 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, purpose, AND his protection in our lives. It is in the "hindsight" where revelation occurs - where our mind begins to comprehend what God has been doing in our hearts all along.

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)

The seas are out of control, even for the most skilled of sailors. The sailors, all skilled in their task of steering and controlling the ship, tried desperately to return to shore - but to no avail. 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 was that they throw him into the sea - essentially allowing a man to drown - something tantamount to murder in their eyes. 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 were looking for any alternative to this life-ending action, but they weren't being offered anything by Jonah. They are in a quandary and the only option they have is to PRAY!!! Imagine that! Prayer didn't come naturally to these fellows, but in the midst of the storm isn't amazing just how many find themselves 'given to prayer'? They turn to the one they "think" might be willing to listen - the God of Jonah - although they didn't know him or serve him personally, they were willing to 'give it a shot'. After all, it his God who is responsible for the sea's upheaval - at least according to Jonah.

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 still using him to touch the lives of people who need to discover the power and grace of the one true God! 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, not to mention what God has done through my own life. They still don't want to throw their newest acquaintance overboard, but he seems to insist there is no other way to 'manage their fate'. They actually seek to be forgiven even before they take their next step. Jonah could have told them to turn the ship around, and then head for Nineveh like he was supposed to. It is quite possible his repentance could have calmed the seas. Instead 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! Don't lose sight of this last part of the passage - they trust Jonah's God to do what "he thinks best". Heathen men, praying to the divine God of the Universe, a God they did not know until now, trusting him to "do what he thinks best"! Do you know how God responds to their faith? 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 will never encourage our rebellion, but I am encouraged God can even use 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 as an evidence of his grace! We cannot lose sight of what comes next - the sea does not consume Jonah - in spite of their fears and their reticence to throw him in, they do. 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! Just sayin!

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