“Then were the men exceedingly afraid and said unto him, ‘Why have you done this?’—for the men knew that he fled from the Presence of the Lord, because he had told them.”
Soul-talk or spiritual introspection is needed from time-to-time for “course correction” as we travel the Pilgrim’s Highway.
“What in the world were you thinking?”
That’s really the essence of the mariners’ question to Jonah that day after battling the wind and the waves. . .“crying out to their gods” (v.5a). . .and trying to lighten the ship by throwing some of their cargo overboard (v.5b). And, it wasn’t until after they “cast lots” that they realized why their god (and, in Jonah’s case, THE God) was angry (v.7).
After trying to find out more about him (v.8) and hearing his response (v.9), they asked him today’s Manna. And, it’s interesting that the verse goes on to tell us that they already knew he was a “man-on-the-run from the Presence of the Lord.”
Didn’t Jonah realize that was impossible?
He should have—partly because of his knowledge of the Word (Ps. 139; Jon. 2:23—Ps. 18:4-6; 22:24; 42:7; 69:1) and partly because of plain common sense. If you truly believe in an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent God, then you ought to know there’s no place you can run where God isn’t present—i.e., of course, unless it be in the thoughts of the wicked (Ps. 10:4). And, even then He’s there; they just don’t realize it or want to admit it.
No, as James Weldon Johnson once wrote in his book, God’s Trombones, “Young man, young man, your arm’s too short to box with God.” How true, how true.
And, we’d do well to regularly stop and ask ourselves “Why am I doing what I’m doing?” Or, when we’ve really messed up, to “be still and know that He is God” (Ps. 46:10) as the Spirit whispers, “Why did you just do what you did? What were you thinking? Don’t you realize I’m always there. . .right where you are. . .watching everything you do. . .and hearing everything you say. . .and even know the ‘secret intents (motives) of your heart’ (Heb. 4:12)?”
Remember: There are none of us who have “arrived” (Phil. 3:12-13). None of us.
That’s why we need the Spirit’s regular “tweaking” of our heart and mind; otherwise, we’ll soon be puffed up with pride or cast down in utter despair.
And, sometimes it’s others’ comments or questions to us that prick our conscience and cause us to reevaluate our attitude and actions. Truly, we should even give thanks for our critics, whose barbed comments may sting up, but later on be used by the Holy Spirit to help steer us back into the “strait-and-narrow” (Mt. 7:13-14).
The Lord used the mariners to help bring Jonah back to reality and repentance. And, in spite of their pagan beliefs and hardened sailor-ways, they still demonstrated genuine concern for him and reverent respect for the God of Abraham (vv.13-16). May the Holy Spirit remind us of the great responsibility we have as “salt and light in the world” (Mt. 5:13-16)—for the way we live will always have a direct bearing on those around us (e.g., Joseph—Gen. 39:2-3, 21, 23; Samson—Judg. 14:1-6; Stephen—Acts 6:9-15; 7:54-60; 9:1-9).
By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated October 11, 2010