4 Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. 5 All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.
But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. 6 The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”
7 Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”
9 He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”
10 This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the LORD, because he had already told them so.)
This passage captivates my imagination. Here in the midst of a storm-tossed sea, a tumbling fragile ship, sleeping prophet and the desperate cries to various gods, the terrified sailors call the prophet to account.
How ironic. The sailors are calling on their gods because of the prophet’s denial of God’s call on him!
The sailors cast lots, conclude that Jonah is responsible for the storm and confront him. The prophet confesses, I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land. Again, what irony! If Jonah truly believed that the LORD is the God who made the sea, then surely he would never have sought to flee from the LORD by going by sea!
Yet, as we see in the next reading, through the prophet’s disobedience, God is bringing the sailors to acknowledge him, the LORD.
I just love the captain’s, (Jonah) how can you sleep? Get up and call on your God! The slumbering prophet is called to duty by an outsider!
Creator God, how easy it is for me to talk the talk, but not walk the walk of faith. Forgive me for the times when my life has denied your Lordship over all. Help me not to flee from you, but to entrust all to you. In the words of the hymn, “take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to thee.” Amen.