I was thinking about Jonah this week. I was talking to my daughter about some of the lessons to be learned from that little 4 chapter book. This was preceded by a conversation with a man a few days back who also mentioned the lessons to be learned from Jonah.
It took me back to a message I heard delivered by a man working with Teen Challenge. I don't remember the sermon but I do remember the 4 points. Allow me to share them with you.
Chapter 1. Jonah ran from God.
Jonah was tasked with delivering a message from the Lord to the people of Nineveh. He did not obey. Instead he took matters into his own hand and ran from the Lord. He did not stop. He took off. Thinking he could escape the will of God he jumps onto a ship. Do you ever feel this way? Are you ever daunted by a command from the Lord and want to tuck tail and run? I know there are times when I feel the Lord nudging me in a certain direction and I want to hit the road going the opposite way. Why is that? It may be we will feel embarrassed or unqualified. Maybe we are comfortable where we are at and don't want to upset our nice apple cart. Something to think about.
Chapter 2. Jonah ran towards God.
Jonah could not run far. God allowed a nice little storm to brew up and so frighten the crew that they turned everyone on board out to ascertain if someone there had angered their gods. Jonah finally pops up that yeah he was running from the Lord and was eventually tossed overboard. The storm stopped and Jonah gets swallowed by a big fish. Funny thing happens in there. While sitting in the belly of the fish, which had to smell horrible, was a bit dark and really wet, Jonah comes to his senses and repents. He turns to God. How many times do your circumstances catch up to you and you finally turn to the Lord? Look how Jonah's sin of disobedience affected others. Sin does that. Our sins affect others. Scary when you think about it. However, if we turn to God and repent He will deliver us just as He did Jonah. The fish belched Jonah out on dry land!
Chapter 3. Jonah ran with God.
This is where we want to be right here. Running with God! Jonah gets out of the fish and runs with God. He goes to Nineveh and preaches the word of the Lord. He delivers the message God wanted Him to deliver. The citizens of Nineveh respond to the Word of the Lord and repent! God had told them, through Jonah, of a coming judgment. They respond, just as we should when confronted with our sin, in repentance. God heard their cry and forgave them. Jonah, he was running with God in obedience. He should have stopped there. Jonah went one step to far.
Chapter 4. Jonah ran ahead of God.
Jonah wanted destruction to fall on Nineveh. He kind of felt that with all he did and went through God should go ahead and punish them. He got angry. Even a bit testy with the Lord. The Lord rebuked Jonah for his thoughts. For his anger and frustration. Do you ever run ahead of God? Maybe not is delivering a message but how about in taking matters into your own hands. When your circumstances get overwhelming do you run to God and then with God or do you allow yourself to run ahead of Him and try to solve the problems yourself?
In all of this there is a challenge to me and to you. Live a life of running with God. Don't fall behind or get ahead of Him but run with Him. Stay close to Him. Listen for His voice and obey!