I have been fascinated with the Hebrew account of a man named Jonah and his encounter with a great fish. Below is part one of a multi-part series where I highlight my takeaway life questions from Jonah’s story.
For me, Jonah’s story is very much about perspective.
Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
Do you pay your fare? Regardless of your circumstance, are you acting fair and ethically towards others?
But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up. Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.
Are you aware of the conditions around you, or are you asleep? Do you make an honest effort to know what is going on in and around your life?
So the captain came to him, and said to him, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.”
Do you have a captain, a leader, in your life to hold you accountable?
And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this trouble has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, “Please tell us! For whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?”
Do you ask before you act? Do you ask others and, most importantly, yourself questions that can help guide your choices?
So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”
Do you have a standard, a creed that you fear? That is, do you have a belief system that you consider bigger than yourself and are committed to following?
Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, “Why have you done this?” For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?”—for the sea was growing more tempestuous. And he said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.”
Are you willing to take responsibility for the choices you’ve made? And do you make thoughtful contributions when problems arise around you?
Nevertheless the men rowed hard to return to land, but they could not, for the sea continued to grow more tempestuous against them. Therefore they cried out to the Lord and said, “We pray, O Lord, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You.” So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows.
Do you go above and beyond what is necessary? Do you leave no room for failure?
Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Do you stop to consider that your circumstances were prepared for you in some way? Have you considered that this may be the perfect circumstance to help you accomplish a short term goal? Or your life’s goal?