So for the past few weeks in chapel we’ve been talking about Jonah… It’s been pretty surreal to step back and think about how my life parallels to Jonah’s. Here’s what I came up with!
1) A runner: Vs. 3 “But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish.
Jonah was a prophet for the Lord. His job was to bring God’s word to the people who needed to hear it… In running away from God, Jonah totally gave up his identity in Christ. He was selfish and lived in fear.
In many ways I have been like Jonah… I have become so distracted by my life and desires that I forget the calling to serve where Christ leads me.
2) A sleeper: Vs.5/6 “But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep.”
When mass ciaos was breaking out, Jonah was sleeping? A storm was rocking the boat and the man was sleeping!
In many ways I have been a sleeper. Sometimes when the big issues pop up the easiest way to avoid them is to sleep, to go about my natural ways rather than to acknowledge that God is asking me to do something, that maybe God is asking me to wake-up!
3) A harmer: Vs.12 “I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”
So because Jonah was running from God, he inevitably put others in harm. His lack of obedience compromised the safety of others.
There have been many of times that my stubbornness to follow God’s directions has inevitably hurt not only me but those around me. In my selfishness I become a harmer to those around me.
4) A crier: 2:2 “From the depths of the grace I called for help, and you listened to my cry.”
When all else was lost, when Jonah found himself sinking in the ocean with seaweed wrapped around his head, he cried out to the Lord.
How often in my desperation, in those moments when I just can’t think of how life could get more painful, how often I have desperately cried out to God. God in His faithfulness has swallowed me with thousands of whales.
5) A goer: 2:10 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I have you.”
After being thrown-up on the beach, Jonah finally obeyed God and went.
Sometimes my life just needs to get smelly enough that I realize how disgusting my plans are and how awesome God’s foresight and directionality is. Sometimes the only thing left to do that is the most reasonable and unreasonable thing to do is to simply throw caution to the wind and follow God’s command to go.
6) A shocked on looker: 2:10 “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.”
Jonah was super-duper shocked at God’s compassion. God saw that the Ninevites hearts were right with him. Jonah was so shocked. He didn’t understand how God could just forgive them and not strike them down. I find this rather ironic…. Jonah himself had a story quite parallel to the Ninevites… Jonah had run from God but God had compassion on Jonah. He swallowed him up in a whale and showed mercy on him. Yet here Jonah can’t comprehend how God could forgive and show compassion.
Sometimes I guess I am like Jonah in that I think God should work in one way and he surprises me when he works in another. I know countless times that I have prayed selfish prayers because in my mind God should be doing something other than what he is doing…. But I am not God. I cannot show pure compassion and mercy without sin. God is a loving God who’s forgiveness encompasses compassion and mercy upon the one who needs him.
7) An angry man: 2:9 “But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?”
So Jonah went somewhere to pout and God gave him a vine to shade him, and then God took the vine away… Jonah then pouts some more and gets angry at God. What in the world! God provided Jonah with shade, God rescued Jonah from the sea, and God spoke to Jonah… but there he sat in the blazing hot sun, mad at God for taking away his shade… Pretty whimpy if you ask me!
Am I any different than Jonah? I think of the popular praise song lyrics, “You give and take away, my heart will choose to say, blessed be your name!” How often when plans change in my life, have I thrown up my hands in disgust at the Lord. How often have I simply sat down disgusted at how God didn’t show up or how God simply took something precious away. What a selfish thing to do.
Jonah simply saw himself in everything. He didn’t want to go to Nineveh, he was asleep on the boat, he cried out to God when he thought he was going to die, he pouted about God showing compassion to someone else, and he was mad about his vine getting eaten… Sounds to me that Jonah’s heart was pretty much in love with himself. Am I much different than Jonah? Am I able to step outside myself and accept the precious gifts God has given me simply because I love God rather than loving his gifts?
I don’t want to have to get caught in the belly of a whale to cry out to God. I don’t want to be asleep in a storm or sit in bitterness… No I want to be in pursuit of God’s plan for my life.
I want to be like Noah who when God told him to build an arch, as crazy as that sounded, he obeyed. He was a fool that’s for sure, but he was a fool for a greater God than anyone else could comprehend. Noah obeyed because he believed. He believed that God was worth trusting. He believed that God loved him. He believed that it was better to be a fool and serve God than to live a comfortable life being an arrogant man.
So in many ways I have been a Jonah but that’s okay because my life isn’t going to end sitting around in the sun filled with bitterness… No, rather each day is a new day to choose to obey and be a fool for what I can’t see but I believe wholeheartedly in. I believe in serving my maker. I believe in living out His compassion and mercy in the ways I interact with others. I believe in him so much that I am willing to go where he calls rather than being swallowed by a whale because I disobeyed. It’s a pretty exciting adventure to simply be a fool for the one you love!