Did you ever have a missionary come to your church to tell you about his work? Maybe he told you about getting Bibles to people who have never had one in their own language. Or maybe he told you about a church he built for people who had been worshipping out under a tree or something. A missionary usually excited about the work God is doing, even if that work is difficult.
If I were a gambler, I’d be willing to bet you’ve never had a missionary come to your church and say,
“I never wanted to go there in the first place, but God sort of made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. So I get there, preach one sermon, and the whole city, including the king, demonstrates serious, heartfelt repentance and believes in God. (Insert disgusted sigh here.) I knew this was going to happen. Just kill me. Kill me now.”
You know, when I study someone in the Bible, I bend over backwards to give him the benefit of the doubt. I consider his cultural context, the fact that he was a fallible human just like the rest of us, the fact that he didn’t have the whole Bible like we do, etc. But I’ve got to be honest with you—I just want to smack this clown upside the head.
Are ya kidding me, Jonah? Seriously?
First, God gives you the unimaginable honor and blessing of placing a calling on your life. He—the Creator, Savior, and Sustainer of the entire universe; the all knowing, all powerful, perfect in holiness God—He wants to use you—Jonah—a slimy little piece of fish food.
Do you thank Him? Stand in awe that He would choose you? No. You don’t like the assignment that the almighty, perfectly wonderful God gave you, so you run off in rebellion like an idiot and nearly get killed for your trouble. And this same God, in Whose face you’ve just pitched a fit like a petulant child, saves your sorry little life—miraculously, I might add—and gives you another chance. And what do you do? You stomp your foot and say, “Fine. I’ll go.”
So you get there, reluctantly do what God told you to do, and get a storybook ending without even breaking a sweat. This is usually where the confetti and balloons fall down from the ceiling and everybody cheers. But noooooooo. Not our buddy Jonah. Jonah pouts, hollers at God: “See, I told You so!”, and throws another hissy fit. Why does God put up with this guy?
There’s something oddly familiar about this story. Seems like I’ve heard it before.
That would be me. My life story.
How many times have I clearly heard the Holy Spirit saying, “Nope. Don’t say that. Keep your mouth shut.” but because I wanted to smart off, or pierce someone with a verbal barb, I said it anyway, and then tried to justify myself to the Lord later?
How many times have I complained about household chores when that’s part of the calling God has placed on my life right now? And He’s blessed me with the house, and with the family I’m caring for by doing the chores!
What about the times during the course of writing this study, that I’ve put my feet on the road to Joppa by goofing off and giving in to distractions instead of sitting down to study and write?
Wow. That patience God showed Jonah looks a lot more precious when the sandal’s on the other foot.
Does Jonah’s story (above) sound familiar to you, too? Write about a time when you acted like Jonah.
What does Jonah’s story tell you about God’s patience with our failings? What do Romans 2:4, I Timothy 1:15-16, and Exodus 34:6-7 say about God’s patience with us?
Repent: of complaining and ingratitude.
Request: that God remind you to be thankful in all things.
Seek God: about any ways you may have been running from Him or rebelling against Him of which you were not aware, and ask Him to bring those areas in line with His desires.