The story of Jonah in a nutshell: God told him to go Nineva and preach repentance. Jonah didn’t want to, he ran from God, got on a ship, a storm came, he fell asleep while the passengers were freaking out, they come to him, he tells them the storm is his fault and to throw him overboard, they do and a big fish swallows him. The fish vomits him out after three days and only then does Jonah go do what God wanted him to do.
Of course there is much more to it than this, but as I said — this is it in a nutshell — without having to do a full and complete teaching on it at the moment.
For the past few weeks I have been thinking about Jonah. Almost every morning, I wake up with him on my mind. How odd, I tell myself. Could it be the Lord trying to lay something on my heart? Trying to tell me something? I don’t know. I just know the man has been on my mind a lot these days.
I’ve been wondering if the reason he didn’t want to do what God told him to do was because he abhored wickedness so greatly. I could be wrong, but it’s kind of obvious to me he didn’t much love the people God wanted him to speak to. Can’t say I blame him there. I too feel the same about what goes on in my day. I look around at world events, good being called evil and evil being called good – seeing blatant wickedness and evil abounding is enough to make one throw their hands up and say, “Enough Oh God! I give up on all of mankind! Send them all to hell for all I care!” Never felt that way? Then you, my friends, are better people than I. I have never pretended to have it together. Those who know me, know this about me very well.
Back to Jonah: Yes, I suspect Jonah (and some if not all, the other prophets) did not have what would be called love in their day and time. Please know now, just because I use Jonah as some example is not my way of calling myself a prophet by any means. Let’s be clear: I am not a prophet. Nor do I want the title thrust upon me. This is about obediance, about allowing God to somehow move in your life when everything around you is falling apart. Even when you may be trying to hide from God or feeling like you want to find means of escape from all the filth and deceptions going on around you.
We all do it, you know — find ways to escape. Some through booze or drugs, some through food, some through forms of entertainment that constantly dulls the senses. Anyone who says they never have, is a liar.
For me it has been a number of things. The main one the past year has been a game I had been playing on Facebook. A game that absorbed my thoughts and time in such a way, that it became sin. Yes, sin. It was just a few days ago that God Himself delivered me from it. I had prayed (well kind of) something like this in that secret place between me and Him: “Lord, you see this. You know what’s happening. I am addicted to this game. I would ask for Your help, but You actually might take it away and then what? Things I would really like to do take my physical energies and strength and I have none. Life really stinks right now and what would replace it?”
What it boiled down to, is, I could not trust God. I can not even tell you that a trust in God led me out of the bondage. Rather, I had suddenly become sick of the game! The thing I once enjoyed had become like quail between my teeth. The game was rigged to keep the player hooked up to it like some kind of matrix, it had glitches and it cheated the players – just like any other addiction or event that takes away our attentions from where they need to be.
Like Jonah asleep on the ship, so was my time on the Facebook game. I didn’t much care what was going on around me, other than the occasional coming up on deck, seeing the storm and going back to my type of slumber after spewing forth a few rants on the things I saw and hated.
For sure the world is perishing and souls are being damned each and every day through great wickedness and sin. With that bit of knowledge, I can’t say for sure where I am right now. I just know that the darkness, vileness and deceptions I see running rampant, still sicken me. I don’t know if I’m still asleep, or if i’ve been thrown over board, or the whale has done swallowed me or if I’m about to be vomited out. And if so, I can understand Jonah’s anger over God having mercy. Sometimes, we want to see people get what they deserve. Even if it is just in a blink of an eye. If no one has ever felt like that, then once again, you are a much better person than I.
But what is mercy? Mercy is never earned. Mercy is only something that a gracious God can give. But, I suppose you have to want it first. God, being the Gentleman He is, would never force Himself on anyone. I reckon Jonah did not want or ask to have God’s mercy for others. I can only say this because Scripture has not shown me otherwise.
I’m asking God to fill me with His mercy – for the approaching days are dark indeed. I can’t walk this Christian walk without His mercy upon me or within me. Only God knows what it will take and how long. I don’t want to be like Jonah. And I don’t want any of you to be like Jonah. I want any of us who may have been trying to hide from God, come out from our slumber, go up on deck and declare the mercies and salvation of our God. Perhaps none of us will have to be thrown overboard and vomited out of the mouth of a fish.
May God find a way to be glorified in each and everyone of us in spite of what we think or how we feel. All mercy belongs to Him and He is the Giver of mercy.
…look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.