In today's first reading, Jonah 1: 1-2:2, 11, Jonah flees from God much like a small child dashes away from its parents when they want the child to do something that is unpleasant or difficult to do. In Jonah's case, God asks him to "[s]et out for the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it; their wickedness has come up to me." In an attempt to get away from God, Jonah boards a ship going in the opposite direction away from Nineveh. On the sea, a terrific storm arises, The turbulence is so horrific that the ship is about to sink. The crew members determine that the problem is Jonah and, in an attempt to save their own lives, throw Jonah overboard. A quiet comes over the waters and all is well for the crew but not so well for Jonah. He is swallowed up by a huge fish which coughs Jonah up on the shores of Nineveh!
The theological message of this story is quite obvious. God is in charge of our lives and has sent us here to carry out His will both in small things and not-so-small things. When we rebel and choose our own will above God's, our lives are thrown into turmoil! We lose our peace of mind, tossing and turning at night, for instance, unable to sleep.
When was the last time I refused to follow God's plan for my life? How have I rebelled? What kind of turbulence has my disobedience caused others in my life? We might also ask ourselves what needs to be "thrown overboard," so that we restore our relationship with God and one another!