Arise, You Sleeper – Jonah 1
We know the lesson of Jonah and the whale inside and out, don’t we? If we didn’t learn it from our Sunday school teachers or our illustrated children’s Bibles, we surely learned it later.
The lesson is there, so ripe for the plucking, how could we miss it? Of course I assumed the first chapter of the book of Jonah could reveal nothing I didn’t already know.
But this is a wild book, this Bible. It is solid like a rock, but there is a Spirit that blows across its pages. I swear, sometimes, I open it up and feel a wind. I wonder that the pages lie so still.
Today, old, old words come roaring back to life. A voice like rushing water speaks straight to my heart. It says:
“What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god!” (Jonah 1:6)
And I suddenly see it.
How I have been Jonah. How my children are little Jonahs. That we live in a world of Jonahs.
This is a world of sleepers.
We rise from our beds. We eat our food. We follow the straight lines of our routines. We talk, we think, we plan and we execute. We tick items from lists, we fret over bills. We shop. We watch.
But always we are asleep.
I am suddenly desperate to know, what does a wide-awake life look like?
Again, I scan the old, old words. I see Jonah, awake now, confronted with the full force of a storm. I worry I do not have what it takes to abandon the easy oblivion of sleep.
I see the wide-awake life is a life of prayer. Call out to your God!
I see the wide-awake life is a life of reverence. I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land!
I see the wide-awake life is a life of total abandonment. It requires letting go of the illusion of safety I experience on the deck of the ship in order to hurl myself into the sea. Because I do believe, though it terrifies and exhilarates, that the only way to find my life is to lose it.
But is it truly lost? For who is the God of the sea?
My God. Jonah’s God. The God of Nineveh, too. The Maker of heaven and earth.
Yes, I say, yes.
And I open my eyes.
Christie Purifoy earned a PhD in English literature from the University of Chicago. She recently traded reading lists and classrooms for a vegetable garden and a henhouse in southeastern Pennsylvania. Now she writes stories at an old desk in the parlor of a Victorian farmhouse called Maplehurst. When the noise of her four young children makes writing impossible, she tends zucchini and tomatoes her children will later refuse to eat. The zucchini-loving chickens are perfectly happy with this arrangement.
The chickens move fast and the baby crawls faster, but Christie is always watching for the beauty, mystery and wonder that lie beneath it all. When she finds it, she shares it at ChristiePurifoy.com.