Being Jonah

Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship. But all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold. (Jonah 1:5)

We don’t often look at the story of Jonah, but what a great one. There is so much to delve into, it can be hard to know where to focus. But the part of the story that I found quite odd (although much of the story is “odd”) is when Jonah falls asleep in the ship as it is being tossed about in the sea. There is havoc all around him; he is the cause of the havoc; and yet he sleeps.

But isn’t that how it seems to go? The one who creates the havoc is oblivious to the impending wreck he or she has caused and then leaves it up to everyone else to clean up the mess.

Perhaps there are a lot of Jonahs out there. Perhaps I’m a Jonah sometimes. It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that it is all about me. Like Jonah, I don’t want to do things God’s way and I ignore what God says. So I run. I don’t go sailing, but I get busy, busy, busy. I think, “When THIS is over, then I’ll have more time to devote to devotions. When THAT is settled, I’ll have more time for prayer.” Or worse, I consider God’s plan but decide that my plan trumps his. Because, after all, it is about me, right!?

You know those floaters you get in your eyes? Have you ever tried to focus on one? It can be maddening. You can never quite pin it down before it floats off to the side or top or bottom. I think that’s how we are. We turn our focus to something that we can never really pin down and we allow it to keep our attention and distract us from seeing what matters.

In keeping with the eye theme, I remember when my mom was in her 70s and she had cataract surgery. Cataracts are when the lens of your eye becomes opaque and the result is blurred and cloudy vision. The world is like a cataract. It clouds our vision.

St. Paul says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23)

I think of worship and devotion time and prayer as cataract surgery. It clears our vision. It wakes us up. It lets the light in. It reminds us that life is not about me. It turns our focus from the fleeting to the truth of our identity in God.

Being Human Connection: May you have cataract surgery today. May your soul be full of light.

Artwork: Jonah as depicted by Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel ceiling