Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. Therefore they called out to the Lord, “O Lord, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.Jonah 1:11-16
When you claim to be a follower of the Most High God, yet it is readily apparent that you are not following Him but rather you are running from Him, even unbelievers will see the consequences of your disobedience. Before I experienced the grace of God, I was a bit of an obnoxious, arrogant, loud-mouth of a kid. Ask anyone that I went to high school with and they will likely agree. I thought I was smarter than everyone else and I let them know it.
In 1995, circumstances and actions that I had taken in my life began to cause things to unravel and get out of control. I was left dissatisfied with my lack of direction, lack of discipline, and lack of definition in my life. I knew I wanted to serve God and that He had called me to missions, but after 4 summer missionary appointments and coming back excited only to be let down when the emotion didn’t sustain itself on a secular college campus, I grew discouraged. I found myself often engaging in doctrinal debates with people of other denominations. At one point, I even tried to work with other believers to create an “interdenominational council” to help foster cooperations for the Kingdom among other Christian organizations on campus. At the time, it failed miserably.
I became angry with God and everyone around me and decided I was better off running away from it all. I dropped out of college and moved to San Antonio, TX in 1996. Just when I thought starting over somewhere else leaving God and my faith behind, the storm had only just begun. Life started spiraling. I couldn’t find a job and was on the verge of eviction and homelessness. After 2 months of searching, I finally found work as a customer service agent for a national airline. Things started looking up, but my life outside of work was still a barren wasteland as I crawled into a bottle trying to hide from the pain in my heart and the storm that raged around me. Furthermore, I was determined to bring others down with me. The group of “friends” I hung out with were a lot of fun at first and then as the consequences of my decisions became more apparent and far-reaching, they all eventually tossed me aside and I rarely saw or heard from any of them again.
When you actively run from God, He will catch up with you. Inevitably, the consequences of your sin will spill over on those around you and it will become obvious that you are the problem. When that happens, you better know how to swim in the sea of your sorrows alone. Especially when they know the reason for your situation is your sin of abandoning God.
Additionally, rare as it may be, it is possible that the consequences of your sin will turn others to Him. They can see that your life is spiraling out of control because of your disobedience and out of fear they turn to Jesus in their own repentance in the hopes of avoiding the same consequences in their own lives. Like scared sailors tossed about in the storm you created, they turn from you and turn to God. And rightfully so, sometimes they will throw you overboard to swim with the fishes on your own in order to hopefully inspire your own repentance.
Are you a believer whose life is currently tossed about by a storm caused by the consequences of your own sin? As long as there is breath in your lungs, there is hope to calm the storm. Fall on your face in repentance before the sovereign Lord of Hosts. Cling to His grace. Perhaps you are not a believer, but you see the storm that unrepentant “believers” are living through as a direct consequence of their own sin. Call out to the one true God that can calm the storm around you and within you.
If you need to speak with someone directly about what it means to experience life in Christ, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help.