Thursday, March 2, 2017
Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.” This time Jonah obeyed the Lord’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all. On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow. Jonah 3:1-5 (NLT)
I’ve never spoken to anyone who has never heard of Jonah. Most of the time, whether it is someone who has been in church all his life, from the cradle roll to Senior Adult class – or someone who has never set foot inside a church, their immediate recollection of Jonah is his disobedience and being swallowed by a huge fish. Thus proving the point, being a bad boy gets a lot more press than obedience.
I get the feeling that after Jonah’s unplanned submarine ride God spoke to him that second time a little more slowly, and with a tone somewhat like what my Dad used to have when I was dangerously close to my last chance to get it right (and treading on his last nerve!).
Jonah…son…let me say this one more time….slowly…
Seven of the sweetest words you’ve ever heard followed:
This time Jonah obeyed the Lord’s command…Jonah 3:2(NLT)
While most people remember Jonah’s disobedience, it is the best news to recall how he began to get it right by repenting and being forgiven and used in God’s service.
Certainly Jonah still had attitude problems to deal with later, but with his bigger problem solved – obeying the unmistakable command of God to proclaim a message of love to his enemies – Jonah was now able to hang around and have God do some major repair on the prophet’s sense of compassion.
And doesn’t that sound like somebody YOU know?
Well, more slowly this time…isn’t that US?
If you went to Ash Wednesday service last night, you may have had a cross drawn on your forehead with some ashes. Every time I think about what that looks like I remember the Jonah in me – disobedient, running from God – apprehended by grace – marked by the ashes of repentance, mixed with the oil of healing.
I don’t mind that being remembered about me.