Jonah: Or When Big Fish Are Pressed Into Service.
The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?” “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”
– Jonah 1:11-12 (NIV)
What if some of the things that bring us misfortune aren’t caused by an evil world, but by our being willfully out of alignment with God’s will for us?…
As you remember God bid Jonah travel to Nineveh and preach repentance to the king and all the people. God wanted to reach out to that evil empire one more time to save them from themselves. But Jonah hated the Ninevites and wanted God to destroy them, every one, even the cattle they owned.
Being in God’s service as a prophet was no small thing, but Jonah’s earthly thinking took control and Jonah rebelled against God in this – I mean really rebelled. He went down to the sea and searched for a ship that was going in the opposite direction of Nineveh. He didn’t merely tell God he wouldn’t do it and just sit still, he travelled – ran – as far away from Nineveh as he could travel, that was his plan.
And it wasn’t because Jonah was unsure if he heard God correctly, he understood clearly God’s directing message. Jonah’s pre-suppositional bigotry was ruling over him. But, God! – But, God! – But God intervened and made it clear to Jonah that he would have Jonah complete his mission and do as commanded. God didn’t just say, “Have your own way, Jonah” and cut Jonah loose to the end results of his own devices, choosing somebody else to complete the task. That would be unkind of God. He was ever caring of Jonah and in no way lost His love for him. But, He did make it a drastic and dramatic turn-around for Jonah as a lesson to him – and to us.
I think about the things I hear of so many in the post-modern church willfully misreading and misinterpreting God’s direction in the Bible for the sake of supporting their own bigotries in favor of a lifestyle they choose to follow; while willfully twisting God’s direction, thereby actively running from God. All the while protesting that they too are God’s people, as they reject correction and heaping hateful names on the would-be correctors. Makes me wonder how many “big fish” God is raising up for eventual use in His service.
I remember at the end of my own rebellion telling God to leave me alone and stop hounding me, stopping my car along side the road, stepping out and shaking my fist at Him as I did this. **A “big fish” came along and swallowed me, spitting me out at the throne of God, Christ leaning down to pick me up, brushing seaweed off me, and asking, “Now what were you saying?”**
I instantly fell in love – real love, like none I had ever experienced before or since; an everlasting love.
“For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17)
**Of course this is figuratively speaking but the end result is accurate**