Sometimes hearing it from the mouth of babes makes truth more real. Audrey’s no baby but her young years in the faith influenced a perspective on a Bible story we want to share with the world.
While working through the book of Jonah in one of her classes, Audrey got a good idea and approached the teacher. “Why don’t we write a creative story from the sailor’s perspective as an assignment?” Encouraged by her innovative thinking, he sent Audrey away with the charge to jot down her thoughts over the weekend for him. Instead, she decided to write the story.
May you be encouraged in your faith and trust in the God of Heaven as you take a journey on a ship from Joppa in Audrey’s short story entitled, “Tossed.”
by Audrey Fish
“Thank you so much for letting me come along,” the kind man exclaimed as we walked up the wooden gangplank. As he stepped onto the ship, he stared around the deck at my rugged crew. I could tell from his polite manners and neat clothes he wasn’t exactly a seaman.
“Men, we will be having extra company onboard. He is a spiritual gentleman, so don’t be too rough on him.” I laughed with my crew. We had been together for awhile on the Dilectus, and long voyages allowed us to get to know each other.
As we left the bay that day, I overheard one of my men talking to the newcomer. “What’s your name, mate? And do ya talk, or are ye mute?”
“My name is Jonah. And what’s yours?”
“I’m Eran, but the crew call me Er. Whichever’s to your liking is fine with me. Now tell me, what, or who, are you running from?”
I could see Jonah’s face pale. “What do you mean? I never said anything about running.”
“Nay, you didn’t say anything. But, as an ex-convict, I know a runaway when I see one. A word of advice: you will be found. Don’t try to run away, mate. Trust me. It’s better to stay put!” Clearly the poor man was surprised Er was an ex-convict. I stepped down onto the main deck and approached them.
“That’s enough, Er. No need to scare the man. He’s sick enough from the waves.” I shot Er a look of warning. Understanding, he retreated to the quarter deck. I slapped Jonah’s back. “Don’t worry about him, mate. He’s the least harmful of the crew. The government was after him because he stole some loot from one of the ports.”
“I see. Thank you, Captain Othniel. I think I’ll go below deck now and get some rest,” he replied. I nodded and turned to watch us head out to sea. The ocean was a beautiful shade of blue, and the sky was clear: a perfect day for sailing. That was what I loved about manning a ship. The journey, though it may be long and sometimes have rough spots, is altogether a magnificent adventure.
After a few hours had passed, just before dusk, Harim, the first mate, shouted, but a deafening roll of thunder kept us from hearing what he said.
“Storm!” he cried out again. Suddenly the peaceful, quiet ship was lively and loud, with men and boys frantically scurrying everywhere. Everybody was working together, and I have to admit it was a wonderful sight.
The rain unrelentingly pelted down on us as we did everything we could to save our lives. The sky was no longer clear but dark and dismal, and the ocean was our vicious enemy. We were desperately throwing the cargo into the water, and some of the crew were crying out to their own various gods. I looked around, making sure we hadn’t lost any men to the sea yet. To my dismay, I didn’t see Jonah. Sprinting down the steps to his cabin, I sincerely hoped he was safe. Something inside me told me he was a special man, maybe even one that could change the history of a nation. I silently laughed at myself. Look at you, Othniel. You’ve barely known this man for a day, and here you are saying he’s going to change a nation. I burst through his door and skidded to a stop as I saw him sleeping.
“What do you think you’re doing, mate?!” I shouted as I shook him awake. “Wake up! We are in the middle of a storm, and you are sleeping! I need you to do something!”
“And what would that be?” Jonah asked as he slowly rose.
I took a deep breath. “As much as I hate to say this, I need you to pray to your God. I am desperate, and maybe he’ll save us from our deaths.”
My groggy eyed guest suddenly perked up.
“Come, let’s go up and see what the others can do as well.” As we emerged from below deck, the sailors approached us.
“Captain, why don’t we cast lots? Whoever loses is responsible for all this,” Eran suggested. Everybody consented, so we cast lots. Sure enough, the lot fell on poor Jonah. Immediately the crew surrounded him and demanded he answer their questions.
“What kind of work do you do?”
“Where are you from?”
“What is your country?”
“What nationality are you?”
Surprisingly, Jonah remained calm. “I am Hebrew and worship the Lord God of heaven, but at the moment I am running away from Him.”
Horrified, the men asked him what they should do to calm the sea.
“Throw me into the sea, and it will become calm,” he replied.
“Nay, Jonah, there’s no need for that…” I quickly objected.
“Yes, there is a need. It is my fault this is happening to you,” he insisted.
“Well, it may be so, but we can just row back to land.” The men climbed below deck to their rowing benches and tried hard to drive the Dilectus back, but she just moved farther forward. The vicious storm didn’t give up, but instead it roared even louder.
Jonah, with the crew on his heels, approached me. “Please, Captain, toss me out.”
I looked around at the faces of my men, my eyes anxiously pleading for their help. My heart sank like a rock in water as they offered none.
“Alright. Let’s get it over with. Start moving,” I commanded gruffly. Er and Harim, as they held Jonah, cried out to the Lord.
“Please Lord, don’t punish us for taking this man’s life. Don’t hold us accountable for his death!” I silently agreed with them and surprisingly said a prayer of my own. Then they quickly tossed him overboard. Suddenly, the dark sea grew calm, and the sky lightened up. Yet my heart was still in turmoil. I could hear the sickening splash of Jonah’s body against the water, but I didn’t dare look over the wooden banister.
As I turned around, I suddenly heard murmurs and cries from my men. What is it now? I stalked back to the banister and peered into the water. Jonah’s body could be seen sinking, but a giant fish swiftly swam up from the ocean depths and swallowed him whole. I couldn’t believe my eyes. In horror, I jumped back from the railing.
“Did anybody else see that?!” I exclaimed. From the looks on the men’s faces, I wasn’t the only one who witnessed it. Harim’s usually red face was as white as a ghost, and even Er looked stupefied. Our shock became fear, and the whole crew instantly fell to their knees. I gripped the mast so hard my knuckles were white. We offered our lives to the Lord that day and vowed we would serve Him from that point on. At that moment, I knew He was the true God.
The next day, I stood on the quarter deck watching the magnificent ocean. Dolphins were swimming along next to us, and it was breathtaking. I intently gazed at the sparkling waters, contemplating over the day before.
Was it right to throw Jonah overboard? I’ll never know for sure. I don’t even know if he’s still alive. However, it was the Lord’s plan, and that’s the best there is. Jonah will always be in my thoughts. Aye, I’ll always remember the man who was tossed.
This past week we pulled off an incredible Facebook live feed for our current DTS school. People from all over the world tuned in to meet these young people as they shared their story about the upcoming outreach. (Spoiler alert) ~ it’s nearly an hour long video. Make some pop-corn and enter the world of YWAM Tyler as you see and hear what’s happening on and off our campus.
As we continue to serve as missionaries in East Texas, we value your partnership to keep us ministering to the nations. Find out how to partner with us on our partnering page.