Dear Jonah, Yours is a story that most children can talk about with ease. Yours is a story that adults often pass over as one they already know, so why dig any deeper? I just have to say that I never want it to be simply a children’s book in my eyes, because it is far from that!
You were a prophet whom the Lord chose to send to the heart of enemy territory. If you had no intention of obeying Him, why didn’t you just stay where you were? Why did you run? You paid the price to board a ship heading in the opposite direction, consciously fleeing from the Presence of the Lord.
Is that what happens in our hearts when we choose to ignore the command of God? Does it make us so uncomfortable to be near the Presence of the Lord that we feel we need to do everything we can to get away?
You went down into the ship and fell asleep, oblivious to the fact that your disobedience affected everyone around you. Is that what happens when we allow ourselves to choose a path different than the one the Lord called us to…do we fall asleep spiritually? Do we even care that those around us may drown in our attempt to stay selfish?
Don’t get me wrong, the fingers I point at you can easily turn around and pinpoint my own choices. Sometimes the path of obedience seems way too scary, difficult and against what I want to do myself. So in reality, I guess I am thanking you for the visual aid of the results of disobedience. I flip the pages to see the storm, the sea, the sailors, the fish…the amazing way God turned your mess into a path of witness and redemption for so many. Yet I sit back with an unresolved wondering in my heart: you never wanted the enemy to repent. You trampled the mercy that was shown you and pouted about the mercy shown them.
Do I do the same? Are there those whom I would see as an enemy, so I would withhold the gospel from them? Are there those whom I don’t want to see mercy shown them? God, forgive me if this is or ever has been true!
May I never obey the Lord just so that the result would be what I choose. My responsibility is to obey. The result, responses, refusals—everything else is in the Lord’s hands.
There is a time to jump ship, and a time to be thrown overboard. Jonah, thank you for your moment of surrender. Repentance is the most beautiful part of your story. Sincerely, Choosing to Obey Scripture to read: The Book of Jonah
Prayer: Father, it is easy for me to criticize from afar. So please help me when I am in the same situation to just do as You say, no matter what. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.