What is a boat? “A boat is a vessel for travelling over water, propelled by oars, sails, or an engine” according to the ‘Oxford’ Dictionary. The Bible itself mentions this “vessel” quite a few times, like Jonah’s boat, Noah’s boat, Jesus preaching on boats etc. but have you ever wondered if this “boat” has an underlying metaphorical meaning to it?
We all face trials and tribulations. We all have our ups and downs in life. Some people face bigger problems than others do, but it’s safe to say that life isn’t a smooth ride for anyone. Every day we wake up to face quotidian challenges. We pray to the almighty to keep the boat of our life safe and stable and to not allow any storms of challenges or problems to come our way. But we often fail to realize that it’s not about what storms do we face, it’s about who is in our boat when we face them. In Mark 4:35-41 we see the disciples worried sick about the storm because just like us, their concern about the storm overpowered their faith in the one who was with them during the storm.
As much as it is necessary to realize who is in your boat, it is also essential to know whose boat you are in. When Jonah was trying to flee from God, he got onto a boat that was going to Tarshish instead of going to Nineveh where he was asked to. God sent a storm furious enough that the boat was on the verge of destruction. Ultimately Jonah was thrown off the boat. There are two very important lessons we can learn from this story, two lessons from two different perspectives.
First lesson is from the perspective of the men who were with Jonah in the boat. If you have toxic people in your life, you need to remove them. Now I’m not suggesting you literally throw people away, what I’m suggesting is that you can or rather need to remove people from your boat that are causing the storm. For example if someone is causing you to do ungodly things under peer pressure, remove them from the boat of your life before it capsizes. The other lesson we learn is from Jonah’s perspective. We need to understand that storms are not meant for destruction they are meant to help you reach your destination. If we disobey God and trust in our own understanding He will allow some tribulations to come in our lives so that we immediately remove ourselves from that situation. In today’s world, this “situation” can mean anything, from a coercive friend circle to an ungodly whatsapp group. Sometimes the storms are sent so you leave the boat. Be wise and do so before it’s too late. Leaving the situation will be tough and options ahead will seem bleak but remember that God has a whale prepared for you, he won’t let you drown.
If you feel like your faith is too weak to stand through the storm, he’ll walk on the waters beside your boat for you. If you believe and trust him you will be able to walk through the waters with him. If you obey him he will fill your boat with more than enough just like he did with Peter’s. Sometimes God will ask you to build your life in a way that seems impossible, but do not worry. Noah didn’t know how to build the Ark either, it was God who enabled him to do so. Let’s make our lives the boat that Jesus would gladly preach the gospel on.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
(Faith Johnson is pursuing her studies in Jesus& Mary College)