My daughter was one of the top performers at the end of her primary school education. She received about 14 different awards for various achievements ranging from Service, Character, Christian values, Academics, Social etc. She has recently moved on to secondary school and her half term result was abysmal to say the least and her teachers complained that she is not taking her work seriously. When I got her score card, I was mortified and the Holy Spirit immediately dropped a rather strange word in my heart – “Cast it into the sea: ref. Jonah”. I had to go read the book of Jonah to understand what the Holy Spirit was up about.
When I sat my daughter down to share these words with her I was also blessed by the words and I want to share my appreciation of these words with you.
In the book of Jonah (we know the Jonah and fish story from childhood), the sea men set out to go to Tarshish (their goal/destination/purpose). Along the way a storm began to rage, the seamen panicked (a very natural response to a storm), but they did not let panic immobilize them (like some of us would). They did some other things to ensure that they reached their destination, achieved their goal and fulfilled their purpose in life. I learnt a few lessons from them…
Lesson 1 - They prayed to their God (we need to know our God enough and relate with Him enough to remember to and be able to call Him our God in the time of storm). The seamen did not throw a pity party, they did not set out to discover a god… THEY PRAYED TO THE GOD THAT THEY ALREADY KNEW. In fact they advised Jonah to call upon his God too.
Lesson 2 – They cast their wares into the sea to lighten the ship (WARES (def.)- a. An article of commerce. b. An immaterial asset or benefit, such as a service or personal accomplishment, regarded as an article of commerce (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language) The wares were items that were OK to have, but at that material time, constituted a hindrance and distraction. This was an emergency measure to prevent the ship from capsizing. This had nothing to do with stopping the storm. They looked inwards for solution and started from within as a response to the external storm.
Lesson 3 – They then sought to identify the cause of the problem – so they cast lots. In Christendom, we would need to pray for God to reveal the cause of the problem. This is definitely where the gift of discernment of spirits is an indispensible gift for all Christians.
Lesson 4 – When they realized that the cause of the problem was their association with Jonah, and realized that Jonah needed to be cast into the sea, they were reluctant to cast him into the sea, so they put in more (fruitless) effort at rowing. (Jonah 1:13). We as human beings sometimes get entangled in all manner of inappropriate relationships, affiliations, association etc, which hinder us from making progress and we are often reluctant to let them go. No amount of rowing effort could save the seamen … they needed to pick up Jonah and cast him into the sea – PERIOD!
My daughter and I pondered these words. We defined our “Tarshish” – Very good result at the end of secondary school, which needed a good foundation today. We agreed that we were in the midst of a storm of impeding academic failure, and we needed to call on God quickly. Also, there were wares (things which are probably OK by themselves but were distracting her) that needed to be cast into the sea ( such as video games, internet, cartoon, movies etc) We also concluded in our search for w.w.w (what went wrong) that there were some “Jonahs” in her ship that she needed to cast into the sea. With proper follow-up, I believe we are now on the recovery path to success.