Have you heard of the story of Jonah? You know the guy who was swallowed by a big fish and lived to tell the tale? It’s a great story of God’s provision even in the midst of… well, being in the stomach of a fish! But, even before his 3 days in the digestive track, he was in the pit of despair. Jonah was running from God. How is it that a prophet, someone who was chosen for such a grand task for God, could refuse to tell the people of Nineveh about the God he served?
Some of us are not too different from Jonah.
So here’s the beginning of the story in a nutshell… Jonah is told to go to Nineveh to tell them about God. Jonah HATES the idea, the people there are not jews, and Jonah is not too thrilled about telling them about HIS God. So he jumps on a boat sailing in the opposite direction. He finds a nice cozy place down in the hold of the ship and goes to sleep. Meanwhile there is a storm blowing. Violent winds were threatening to break the ship apart.
Now, how is it that Jonah could sleep so soundly? How is it that a man of God can be actively running, and yet so easily fall asleep… and even sleep through the violent storm shaking his boat?
Same way Christians today do the same thing. There are christians that are sleep walking. They are talking in their sleep, laughing and crying, and living… but their completely dead to the world around them.
Jonah maybe closed his eyes this time, but he’s been sleeping for a while. He turned his back on what God asked him to do, coming up with his own way for doing things. So when God didn’t do it HIS way, he high-tailed it out of there. He was dreaming if he thought God would ignore this.
Back to our story… While the storm is raging, the sailors are scared to death! They are trying every god they can think of. They are asking these gods to stop the storm… Their gods are fictitious. They don’t exist, they have no power. So of course they do not work. They are throwing cargo over, doing everything they can think of to keep from dying. All of them, crying out to gods who could do nothing, all while there was a man on board who had a relationship with the One True God… but was sleeping.
Christians!!! There is a storm in our world. Violent storms of sin, and pain, and hopelessness, and anxiety, and depression, and fear, and crime, and hate are threatening to break lives apart… and you’re lying there sleeping. You are the one who knows the redeemer, the hope-giver, the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, the peaceful One, the loving One… and you’re sleeping in the hold of the ship! Jonah slept while people fought for their lives… Christians! The world needs our message, and our testimony, it’s time to WAKE UP!!
The Captain of the ship finds Jonah and asks him to pray to his God, the ONE TRUE GOD. It’s their last-ditch effort, but they’re hanging on to a thread of hope. Jonah had the one who could deliver! We hold the truth, are we living it? The world may never come to us like the captain of this ship did. If we lay around snoozing until they do, we’ll miss out. We won’t be apart of their journey, and their journey may end with the storm!
So, Jonah wakes up, the crew figure out that it’s Jonah’s fault that the sea is raging. They learn of his sin and since the storm was getting worse they desperately ask him what they should do now. I mean, come on, if the one person who claims to know God is causing the storm, what is there left to do!?
Christians, when we sleep through this life and pretend we’re fine… we are causing storms all around us. We are causing others to question our God. We are causing others to stumble as they try to stand upright through the torrential winds of life. How many times have we heard, “I don’t go to church because there are too many hypocrites there.” Although there are many flaws to that reasoning, it’s true that there are too many christians forgetting to live what they say they believe. They are sleep walking. And they are a danger to the world around them.
Jonah decided he needed to be thrown into the sea. He knew God, he was just not living what he believed. He knew that God could fix it. Not just the storm, but HIM. He knew that the storm was his fault, and he acted in order to remedy the situation. It’s probable that Jonah repented at that moment. He woke up, and in order to save the people in his boat, he was willing to be thrown overboard.
It’s never too late to WAKE UP! There may be damage done, but you can make a difference in the lives around you. You can still decide not to ignore those hurting around you. Maybe you ignored the problem for years, and you’re too ashamed to admit that you’ve slept right through their issue. You can still throw yourself at the mercy of Jesus, and let Him wake you up.
HOW DO YOU WAKE UP!?
- Have a thorough consciousness of the reality of the world around you. Don’t turn a blind eye, pray for those lost in sin. Open your eyes to those hurting, and hopeless. Acknowledge that hate exists, and that people are falling into storms of anxiety and depression on a daily basis.
- Believe that the comforter CAN comfort those you see hurting in the world. And then ACT! Don’t be like Jonah and withhold the knowledge of God from a dying world.
- Serve God. Don’t stop because the storm is raging. It’s time to start living what we believe. When life is hard, when God asks more of us than we think we can do, serve God. When trials come, Serve God. When things don’t work out the way you intend, serve God. You’re the Christian! You know the power of God, so don’t just believe it… ACT!
Jonah was thrown into the sea. And the sea suddenly fell calm. Jonah splashing into the sea showed the sailors that his faith was backed with actions. He was no longer one of those people who claim Jesus as Lord, and yet act no differently than people who have no god at all. When they saw this, they were amazed, and began serving God, too.
Our greatest evangelistic tool is not to blend in and sleep our way through the Christian life. It’s to wake up and live a REAL Christian life. We must notice the need of Jesus in the World around us, show them that we believe in the Jesus we claim as God, and we need to serve Him wholeheartedly. Show, with our lives, that Jesus is REAL. WAKE UP, Live bold, and awaken those around you!
Christians, we can’t sleep through this. We must “Go into all the World…” And if they catch us sleeping, we can lose them. Don’t worry, He promises to be with us always…
We, are not alone. Although Jesus IS enough, He isn’t asking us to do it alone. Find some good Christian friends who are AWAKE, and serving well. Surround yourself with the fellowship of other believers. And, let’s keep each other out of the belly of a whale!