My husband has a gift for sleeping. He falls asleep within minutes of his head hitting the pillow, and he’s perfected the art of the power nap. He can also sleep on airplanes, even during turbulence. In fact, I’ve witnessed him fall asleep prior to takeoff and not wake until landing for shorter flights.
Jonah had a gift for sleeping too. After choosing to deliberately disobey God, Jonah heads in the opposite direction of God’s leading. He boards a ship to Tarshish, the most remote location he could think of, and promptly falls asleep in the ships belly. In fact, Jonah sleeps so soundly that he fails to wake even when a storm hits.
“But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep. So the captain came to him, ‘What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.’” (Jonah 1:5-6)
In other words, “How in the world can you sleep in this storm?”
Now, maybe Jonah was just a good sleeper like my husband. Or maybe he’s like so many of us who “sleep” in order to avoid God-given responsibility or responsibility of any kind for that matter. Regardless, it took a serious storm plus another person shaking him awake to finally get Jonah moving.
Sleeping for Distraction
This short excerpt from Jonah teaches us:
- Storms are sometimes from God. Whether he allows or sends them, storms (i.e., trials) are sometimes God’s tools for shaping our lives.
- God sometimes uses others to shake us into action. We often fail to have the right perspective during our own trials and need to hear another’s perspective to help us get moving.
- God sometimes uses unbelievers to direct believers. The captain was not a believer (yet), but he still implored Jonah to call on his God because the captain’s god (or gods) wasn’t getting the job done.
- God uses storms to get us moving in the right direction. The more determined the disobedience, likely the more powerful the storm. If there’s a raging storm in your life, consider how God might be using it to direct you.
- Even the best sleeper can’t ignore God forever. We can choose to dismiss him, but no trick exists for completely and permanently avoiding him. We will one day have to face him.
Try as we might, whether by literally sleeping or by “sleeping” in the form of busyness and distractions, we cannot avoid storms meant to set us on the right track. Over time, however, we may put our awareness of God to sleep and become less and less able to see and hear His directing. Let us each determine first not to be deliberately disobedient and to secondly not “sleep” through God’s redirecting.