AWRIGHT DEN – Lesson from Jonah
As a child, I grew up in a time when Sunday school and church were never an option. It didn’t matter if I was sick, hungry, didn’t have “church clothes”, the rain was falling or I had homework to do; I had to go.
Many parables and Bible stories were taught, some you remembered and others you forgot. One of those stories that continues to generate lots of debate is the story of Jonah and the big fish (whale).
I wanted to say that all of us know this story but I have learnt that many don’t. Actually, I stood in a school hall and a priest asked the students to repeat the Lord’s Prayer and a significant number of the students began but couldn’t finish the prayer.
About two years ago, I decided to read the story of Jonah for myself. For many years, I heard the story told by others, I watched the cartoon version and I also read it in some books. It’s amazing what is revealed to you when you take the time to read something for yourself.
I am only going to share the beginning of the story which includes a significant part that is seldom or never told. (Some details have been left out.)
Jonah was instructed by the Lord to go to the great city of Nineveh and let the people know that He cannot overlook the wicked things they have done any longer. But Jonah got up and ran away from the Lord. He went and boarded a ship that was going in the opposite direction of Nineveh. The Lord sent a violent wind over the sea.
The storm was so powerful that the ship was in danger of breaking up. The sailors on the ship became afraid and cried out to their gods and started throwing cargo over board to lighten the ship, but this didn’t help. The captain went to Jonah who was fast asleep, woke him up and asked him to pray to his God in the hope that He would see their situation and save them.
The men decided to cast lots to see who was responsible for their calamity. The lot fell on Jonah and they questioned him. The sailors then realized that Jonah was running away from God.
The storm was getting worse and the sea was getting rougher and rougher, so they asked Jonah: “What should we do with you to calm the sea?”
Jonah said: “Throw me into the sea and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.”
After this, the story goes on to tell you that he was swallowed by a big fish.
Many may be wondering what is so important about this portion of the story.
Here were some innocent sailors whose lives were turned into chaos and danger because of a person who had boarded their vessel.
Many times when things got really hard for me and very tough and unpleasant situations arose in my life, I immediately thought I was to blame. I asked myself, “wuh I did wrong?”, “where I messed up?” After reading this, I realized that the problem wasn’t always me, but my situations could be influenced by some of the people I allowed to enter my life.
Think about it! There may be people who are in your lives that are causing you to see hell. The ironic thing about it is that it may not be the people you think. Remember, Jonah was sleeping, he did nothing to the sailors but his mere presence was all that was needed to almost kill the men.
Your children’s behaviour, school performance and attitude could also be negatively influenced by some of the people they call friends.
Sometimes it is hard to let people go or release them from our lives, but our prosperity, freedom and peace may be being hindered by our holding on to them. It may hurt their feelings to let them go, but it might destroy our lives to keep them.
Corey Worrell is a former Commonwealth youth ambassador. Email firstname.lastname@example.org