I shared the following devotion with the readers of Laced with Grace today...
I don’t hear many sermon messages about Jonah. He is one of those overlooked Bible Characters that speaks so much more than just “a guy swallowed by a fish.” I just love Jonah. Why? Because I get him. I really do. A man that had a clear direction from God, but who allowed things, people perhaps, or just simply his fear to allow him to turn and run.
Jonah was no different than you and me. He was faithfully serving God, He was living among his own people and sharing God’s Word with them. Then all of a sudden, God asks Jonah to do something that would require him to step out of his comfort zone.
“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” -Jonah 1:2When God asked Jonah to go to Nineveh, that was simply not the way things were done. In the old Testament, how Israel witnessed to the world was by serving God and living for Him. They did not go out to the world, instead because of their witness, the world came to them, enticed by their faith and prosperity.
What was this thing that God was asking Jonah?
I could hear it being said … “Seriously, God? Ninevah? The largest Gentile city that there is! You do realize of course that it is the capital city of what is known to be the cruelest and most brutal nations in the ancient world. Assyria is known for burying their enemies alive, skinning them alive and all kinds of other insanely brutal acts. This is where you want ME to go?”
Poor Jonah. He had no problem sharing God’s love but he wasn’t sure about this “judgment” assignment. Who can blame him for wanting to run, it’s one thing to be sent outside of his comfort zone, but on top of that go to a place with hostile people and bring them a very unwelcomed message!
“But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.” - Jonah 1:3Seems to me that Jonah isn’t too far off from me and you. How often have we put on our running shoes and ran as fast as we can, away from what wasn’t comfortable for us? Face it, if it feels uncomfortable or if it goes against the norm, we find all kinds of excuses to not obey. Jonah ran, but he didn’t get far. In fact his running shoes took him to places he never dreamed of….in the belly of a fish!
“Now the LORD provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” -Jonah 1:17Is the story of Jonah sounding more like your story -do you feel his struggle? Do you see his failures?
Often times, it takes a storm or even alittle bit of belly-aching to come around and see that God is full of grace and compassion and when He asks us to do something, even if it seems crazy, we might want to just listen and obey.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank you for your compassion and grace. I do not want my Ninevah’s to keep me from doing what You are asking of me. Take the blinders off of my eyes and help me to see that you will not take me anywhere that You won’t be with me. I trust You. And I want to obey You, even when it feels uncomfortable. AMEN.