The ‘Jonah’ on your boat

Photo of Robin Harris Kimbrough

Dr. Robin Harris Kimbrough

We all remember the story of Jonah, a disobedient prophet, who refused to preach to the people of Nineveh because he thought they did not deserve to be saved. To avoid this mission, Jonah decided to get on a boat and run from God’s call. He did not want to do the will of God. While on the boat, a storm arose causing the boat to almost sink. After casting lots, they discovered Jonah was the source of the storm and the confusion on the boat. Jonah volunteered to be thrown overboard. We know the rest of the story. God used a big fish to catch him, and Jonah spent three days in the fish. Through a prayer of repentance and submission, God released him from the big fish. Many of us have experienced a ‘Jonah’ in our boats. We too have refused to do God’s will. We have run ran from a divine call and acted disobediently. We have all struggled with the ‘Jonah’ on our boat. But the Jonah on our boat is not a person. It is a spirit of disobedience. The Jonah on our boat convinces us to do exactly what Jonah in this story did—obey our flesh and what we think rather than by obeying God.

When the spirit of disobedience becomes active in our lives, it causes vigorous storms that rock our boats and toss us from side to side. The spirit of disobedience causes us to become out of control. Jonah gets in our boats because we refuse to listen to God. We need God’s grace to prevent Jonah from getting in our boats. God loves us so much that even when we struggle with letting Jonah out of the boat, God will take authority over Jonah and put the spirit of disobedience under control. God is able to turn our disobedience into obedience when we throw Jonah overboard.

Even though we struggle with throwing Jonah overboard, we have to remember that getting Jonah off the boat is a matter of personal safety and the salvation of others. God is so merciful. The big fish catches Jonah, and inside the belly of this fish God brings Jonah into submission. God does it by deconstructing Jonah and reshaping him into someone than can be used by God. In the belly of the fish Jonah struggles with God’s will and his own will. In the midst of digestion, Jonah is broken down and now able to do the will of God. When we are willing to surrender our sins, admit our need for grace and pray, we can bring the spirit of disobedience under submission to God’s will. God is faithful to us and can help us with the Jonah in our boats.

Instead of a big fish to catch us, God sent his son Jesus Christ—whose life, death, and resurrection helps us to handle situations when Jonah comes aboard. If we surrender all to him, we can be delivered from the Jonah on our boats.