I was driving home one day after spending the weekend out of town on a business trip (prior to my call to ministry). I was picturing getting home, kicking my shoes off, and plopping myself down on the couch. I could practically feel the remote in my hand. Yet, up head of me I saw taillights … and lots of them. I was soon in the middle of stop and go traffic. I grew frustrated as I inched along. I grew really frustrated as I eyed the clock. I finally decided that at the next exit ramp I was going to exit and ride the access road all the way home if necessary.
I inched along with anticipation of making my move. I inched closer and closer and finally I was off. I was extremely proud of myself as I sailed along passing cars at what seemed liked NASCAR speed. Yet, I found it odd that other cars were not following my lead … and I soon found out why.
See, this exit did not lead to the access road. It led you to a dead end. A dead end that forced you to take a left and then another left. I was now going the opposite direction from home.
I was going fast in the wrong direction.
I was doing this inadvertently. Yet, there have been times in my life when I have been purposefully going fast in the wrong direction. There have been times in my life when I was just like Jonah.
[Take a few moments and read Jonah. Come on. It’s only four chapters.]
When we think of Jonah we often think of a children’s story. I hope to change that perception. When I think of Jonah I don’t think of a children’s story. Rather, I think of you and me.
Jonah was told by God to go and preach to the city of Nineveh – but he took off fast in the wrong direction. I think we can all relate.
We all have heard a message from the Lord. We have all been at the point of choosing obedience or heading in the opposite direction. Maybe you are in that situation right now. You hear God calling and you are having an internal debate whether or not to obey.
Jonah chose to flee in the opposite direction – but Jonah finds out that you can run but you can’t hide.
My question for you: Are you headed to Nineveh or Tarshish?
Are you living in obedience … or disobedience? Jonah teaches us that obedience is always the superior option.
In all frankness, you can’t blame Jonah for fleeing. You can’t blame him wanting to avoid Nineveh. Nineveh was the enemy of the nation of Israel. Nineveh is near modern day Mosul Iraq. Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria and the Old Testament is filled with references of Israel being attacked by Assyria. They were a powerful and well-developed civilization, known for their brutal and cruel treatment of enemies. For extra credit read the book of Nahum for a description of Nineveh. It’s scary.
Jonah had an excuse to head fast in the wrong direction. I think we can identify with Jonah because we are skilled at coming up with excuses.
- Surely, God doesn’t want me to forgive that person!
- Surely, God doesn’t want be to go out of my way to help that person!
- Surely, God doesn’t want me to give that up, it brings me such pleasure!
What are some of your favorite excuses for heading in the opposite direction from where God is calling you? How many times do we have to repeat these excuses to ourselves until we finally believe they are true?
When we think of Jonah we often think of a children’s story. I hope to change that perception in our few minutes together this morning. When I think of Jonah I don’t think of a children’s story. Rather, I think of you and me.
Look to a future post on more from the Jonah.