Last Sunday I happened to catch James Merritt’s Touching Lives broadcast. He preached a sermon on Jonah entitled “The Fugitive.” Now, I’ve heard a lot of preaching from the book of Jonah, read a lot of commentaries on the book, and preached through the book myself. Merritt, however, brought out a certain point that I’d never considered. He noted that the ship upon which Jonah fled to Tarshish was a cargo ship, and when God sent the windstorm to strike the ship, one of the first things the sailors did was throw all the cargo overboard in an attempt to keep the ship from sinking. It was only after losing that cargo that they figured out that Jonah was the cause of the storm and reluctantly obliged when he said, “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” (Jonah 1:12).
Merritt’s point was that losing an entire cargo haul hit those sailors where it hurt: right in the wallet. Those men had their livelihoods tied up in those goods they were transporting, and cargo ships don’t get paid to unload nothing at the docks. So, even though the windstorm immediately subsided as soon as they threw Jonah overboard, it’s not like those men sailed on to Tarshish unscathed. No, when Jonah forsook God’s will and ran off to do something else, those sailors got hurt by his actions. They got caught in the ugly backwash of his mess.
This, of course, is how it always works when someone refuses to do God’s will. Not only does the disobedient individual get hurt, other people get hurt as well. So, Jonah, are you being tempted right now to run from God’s will and head off to some Tarshish of your own choosing? Well, just know that somebody somewhere, perhaps someone you wouldn’t even begin to consider as you are making your decision, will get hurt by your disobedience. You see, life is such that we are all just too interwoven for our actions, either good or bad, not to affect others. And that’s just one more good reason for each of us to always do God’s will in every situation.