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The Flight and Plight of Jonah (Part 1): "Get Off My Boat!"

My mornings are quiet, my days are easy – I like them that way. It is my time to reflect, meditate, and pray! I don’t drink coffee religiously, but on occasions, I will indulge myself. My favorite morning beverage is fruit juices, especially grapefruit juice. As far as breakfast goes, I can do without. By the time I get ready to eat my first meal of the day, it is more like a brunch - That is my morning as an empty nester.

Just like now, as I flip through the pages of God's Word, my attention is drawn to what I refer to as the 'Flight and Plight of Jonah.' Who was Jonah? Jonah was a prophet whose name meant 'Dove.' We all know him as the prophet who ran, or should I say tried to run, from God's presence. As a result, he boarded a ship going in the opposite direction from which God had instructed him - to Tarshish instead of Nineveh. Tarshish was about 2,500 miles from where Jonah was, in comparison to Nineveh being approximately 500 miles away.

"How far have you run, to what extreme have you gone to escape what God has called you to do? And, who is suffering because of it - while you are sleeping?

Jonah was trying to put as much distance between himself and Nineveh as possible. But, why? In my opinion, the answer is simple - Jonah had his own personal agenda. He disliked the Assyrians and did not want to see them delivered or spared. They were a rival government to Israel and he wanted them destroyed - after all, they deserved it. However, he quickly discovered that salvation is available to everyone who would repent, and not just to those of his choosing.

Although the object of Jonah's disdain where the Assyrians, his fleeing from the Lord's presence caused problems for those in his company. When Jonah boarded that ship, unknowing to the other occupants, he made them an unsuspecting target as well. Running from God is not easy. There was no surviving this storm - except through repentance and obedience.

Without warning, God sent a storm into the sea to retrieve Jonah that was so forceful that the scripture says, "...there was a mighty tempest in the sea so that the ship was like to be broken." The unsuspecting men on the ship were frightened and fought hard to get their ship to shore, but they could not because the winds only grew stronger and stronger. Frantically, they begin tossing things overboard to lighten the ship's load in hopes that it would make it easier to navigate through the storm - but, nothing helped.

Frustrated, the captain came upon Jonah, and what was he doing? SLEEPING! And where was he sleeping? DOWN INTO THE SIDE OF THE SHIP! The nerve and audacity of Jonah laying in the cut chilling during a time like this when they are fighting to stay alive! “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish," the Captain said.

Finally, after casting lots, they determined that Jonah was the culprit. Yep, I don't know if they spun the bottle, flipped a coin, or pinned the tail on the donkey - but, God moves in mysterious ways because Jonah won the prize! After he could no longer hide, he confessed and the other men on the ship, realizing what Jonah had done, asked him, "What shall we do with you in order for the sea to be calm?" Jonah replied, "Throw me overboard."

In spite of everything, they tried their very best to get their vessel to dry land. They did not want to be responsible for Jonah's demise, they did not know what to expect. It seemed too cruel to throw a man off a ship in the middle of the sea during a storm. It was inhuman at the least. No one could survive such an ordeal. However, God's will had to be done - they threw Jonah off the ship into the fierce turbulent waters, and once they did, the sea ceased from her raging.

It is hard to make that decision. That decision to SAY NO, and LET GO! That decision to cut the apron strings. It is not easy to watch someone you love and care about struggle, looking for a way out - not knowing that God has already made a way for them to escape! It hurts but we have to let go and let God!

You cannot allow someone to occupy your space that is a hindrance to you and your way of life. That does not mean they are a bad person, they just don't belong with you - they have a different path they should be following.

(Video Version)

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