With whom do you connect in the story of Jonah?
Maybe you feel like the sailors who don’t seem to recognize God until they are desperate for help and their troubles are looking like they might swallow them up.
Maybe you feel like the people of Nineveh before Jonah’s visit: lost in sin and needing someone to speak God’s truth into your life. After Jonah’s visit they were humble and repentant. Is that what you are feeling right now?
Maybe you feel more like God: you desperately want people to know your love, but it seems no one wants to listen to you.
I am afraid that all too often I identify with Jonah, the spoiled brat, who wants God to follow my plan and stop urging me to do things that are outside my comfort zone. I want God to forgive me and to punish those whose behavior angers me. I want to go my own way and ignore the call that God places on my heart because it looks challenging and it is not at all what I had in mind for my life.
Somehow I think Jonah and I are related! I recognize in Jonah my own bad attitude. I spend my energy feeling sorry for myself instead of doing what God has told me that I should be doing. I wallow in my own bitterness. Why would God even choose to use someone who is so defiant?
In Jonah I see my own disobedience. Jonah acts like a spoiled teenager who is angry that he did not get his way. Most days I think my behavior must look like that to God. Like Jonah, I choose my own agenda over God’s and fail to follow the compassion that God has for even those who are most difficult to love.
Almost all of creation behaves obediently in the story. The wind and waves, the vine, the worm, even the pagan sailors and the evil city turn obediently to God. The only one who struggles with obedience is the one who claims to follow God. Not such a great witness!
Lord deal as patiently with me as you persevered with Jonah. Teach me the joy of obedience and redirect me from my agenda to yours.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra