“The sailors were terrified, and each one cried out to his god. They hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to make it lighter. Now Jonah had gone down into the hold of the vessel to lie down and was deep in sleep.” Jonah 1:5 CEB
Many years ago, about this time of year, I was facing outpatient sinus surgery. We scheduled the surgery and the date was fast approaching. This would be my first surgery and I really did not know what to expect. I remember waking up in recovery with ice on my face and the doctor telling me everything went very well. To this day I have little to no recollection of the several days following that surgery. The doctor prescribed me a very high-priced pharmaceutical pain reliever, which I was sure to take. It was such a good pain reliever that it literally knocked me out cold for several hours at a time. I would wake up about 20 minutes before I was due for the next dose and then get knocked out again. I have joked that it was the Thanksgiving that time forgot, for me anyway. There is even a Thanksgiving family picture that I slept through that year.
I believe that it is possible to be so oblivious that we sleep right through some of the happenings in our life. Of course, I do not mean literally. I mean there are times where we are so comfortable with our life that we miss the things going on around us. There are times when we are so tunnel visioned that we cannot see the world in which we live. Has this ever happened to you? You are so focused on your life, or an area in your life, that you lose sight of everything else? It could be a season at work when you had to give extra hours, attention, and effort. During that time all else seems fuzzy or faded into the distance. We all have times in life where this happens. The key is to not stay oblivious.
Jonah received a call to follow God and serve God. Jonah flat did not like the call and felt God had dialed a wrong number. So Jonah made plans to head in the exact opposite direction. He headed off on his plan, knowing that it was not what God wanted for him. Jonah was so focused on his plan and believed it was the best thing for him. Jonah thought his plan was way better than God’s plan. He was so sure of this and comfortable with what he was doing that he fell asleep in the middle of a huge storm at sea. In other words, Jonah became oblivious. In chapter one of Jonah it says that God sent the storm through which Jonah was sleeping. God sent the storm to get Jonah’s attention and Jonah was oblivious. He was asleep in the bottom of the ship, oblivious.
We need to be on guard to becoming oblivious to God’s call to follow. God calls us to follow in many ways and many times a day, week, month, and year. We need to be alert and make sure that we are not deciding to go our own way. We need to make sure we don’t start believing that we know better than God and that our way is the better way. As silly as it sounds … we all have done this and will probably do it again. The important thing to remember is that God calls us to follow. It may not always look like the way we would choose to go, but it is the right way to go. God’s call to follow is not a call to safety and comfort. God calls us to be obedient, not oblivious.
This Sunday we begin a new message series on the book of Jonah with the message "The Call to Follow." The message will help us remember that God calls every one of us to follow. What a privilege to know that God calls us to follow and be a part of the divine plan of redemption for the world. There is no greater place to be than to follow God. I look forward to sharing this message with you Sunday. God is at work at St. Andrew’s and I can’t wait to see you in church!