“So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.” (Jonah 1:15 KJV)
One of the most challenging things in attempting to follow the command to love others is knowing when to cut your losses. That sounds weird; does it not? Yet that is often what we think. The storm is raging. It is clearly not our fault. Not doing something does not seem to be helping. What we are already attempting to do is not helping either. At some point we just want to grab the person by the shirt collar and send them sailing. Nothing personal of course.
The really unfortunate thing is that this evaluation process has become the common sense standard rather than the last stitch effort. The problem does not just seem to be loving the neighbor, but loving them for an extended period of time ratchets up the challenge. To make it worse, love draws people closer. It is often the people within the same house that see that which is most awful. We habitually pull apart because we need time and space.
What was it both here and later in Matthew 8:26 that made the sea calm? Not a slow settling of the waters over time as the energy that stirred them up was removed, but a complete and total calm. What actually made that possible? The command of God! Here that was manifest through the prophetic words of Jonah and then their fulfillment as he landed on the water. In Matthew 8:26, it was the more direct voice of Jesus. Yet equally noticed by each group of spectators as the sea’s direct obedience to a command.
Why is that important? It is not within our nature, no matter how hard we try, to be able to successfully love another. Not just not them, but anyone. We can try really hard to lighten the ship with soft words. We can try to bring logic and sensibility into our practice. We can cast lots for what to do next. Yet no matter how strong the rage of the sea that we are in is, it is in the surrendering to the command of God that we will actually see that sea calm.
“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2 KJV)