Throw It Overboard!

God told the prophet Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and preach. Jonah disobeyed, instead boarding a ship bound in the other direction. So God sent a storm that threatened the safety of the ship. The fearful crewmen cried out to their various gods as they threw cargo over the side to lighten the vessel. Eventually, Jonah confessed that he was the reason God had sent the storm. He told the sailors they would have to jettison one more piece of cargo: “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you.”

The sailors were reluctant, certain that Jonah would drown if they did as he said. But when all other efforts proved vain and the seas kept getting rougher, the men were left with no choice. They prayed that the Lord would not hold them guilty of Jonah’s death—and then they threw him over the side. Immediately “the sea stopped its raging” (Jonah 1).

Imagine being in the position of those sailors. To enable their progress, they had to make the difficult decision to throw Jonah overboard. They didn’t want to. But his presence had put them in danger. If they kept him aboard, they likely would not survive. Only by getting rid of him could they continue their journey safely.

Following the Lord is like that: if we intend to reach heaven, there will be things we have to throw overboard. Habits: drunkenness, foul language, pornography, gossip. Attitudes: bitterness, envy, selfishness. Sexual relationships outside of rightful marriage. Dishonest business practices. And more.

The challenge is that some of those things may be hard to throw overboard. They may bring us a sense of happiness and comfort. We may accept them as “natural.” We may have an emotional attachment to them. Laying them aside may feel like tossing a man from a ship into the raging sea. But if God has said to get rid of something, we can be sure that clinging to it will put our spiritual journey in peril.

Have you been keeping what God says to put away? Throw it overboard. You may be surprised at how joyful the voyage becomes.