Summer is coming, and it looks like a lot of vacation spots will be open this year! It wouldn’t be surprising to find the beaches pretty crowded as people are so ready to get out of their houses and have some fun – just to get away from it all.
However, these thoughts bring to mind one of the most famous “scuba divers” in the Bible. You may have heard of him a time or two: Jonah.
Good ole Jonah was quite a rebellious character, but that didn’t stop him from getting his very own book in the Bible! (It’s only four chapters and is very entertaining…) Of course, he is most famous for being swallowed by a great fish – probably something similar to a whale, but it isn’t specified in the OT. It’s true that he was running from Nineveh, jumped on a boat, and was thrown overboard when a storm hit. That’s when the big fish came at the perfect time (God’s timing is always perfect!) to swallow him and keep him from drowning.
Whew! His life was saved, and everything worked out…swimmingly . Not a chance! Our friend Jonah, safe and sound in the fish’s belly, spent three days complaining to God about how life is unfair, and that Nineveh didn’t deserve God’s forgiveness because they were so evil.
We would never do something so ridiculous, right?
Ok…think about this for just a minute. Jonah was tossed off the side of a ship, was saved from drowning by being swallowed by a huge fish, but seaweed and stomach contents of the whale aside was safe yet complaining to God about his horrible life. Hmmm…so instead of being thankful for God’s protection, he immediately threw a tantrum…There is something wrong with this picture.
So, after a few days, God – in His mercy – allowed the fish to basically spit up Jonah on land. Not sure how Jonah would have looked or smelled, but at least he was alive.
But guess what. He still had that assignment to go to Nineveh to encourage them to repent. God didn’t let Jonah off the hook that easily. Now, if you were to use the power of deductive reasoning (or inductive?), then you would probably assume that Jonah had learned his lesson and joyfully carried out the task.
Nope! This time he went, but he was filled with despair as opposed to anger. Nineveh was a wicked city that Jonah felt didn’t deserve God’s forgiveness. However, he let the Ninevites know that judgment was coming if they didn’t turn their lives around. So, they listened to Jonah and changed their ways!
The victory was won! The Ninevites repented and were praising God for His faithfulness! Everyone was happy, except one: Jonah.
He told God that this whole scenario was totally unfair, so that was why he refused to go in the first place. Jonah said that he knew God would forgive the Ninevites, but they didn’t deserve it because they were so evil. After some additional communication, God explained that He loved the people from Nineveh so much that He didn’t want to destroy them.
The story kind of ends there, but that leaves us with a few questions. Have you ever felt like God was leading you to help someone with something, but you can’t understand why He would ask you to do it? Is it possible that there might be some underlying jealousy or competition? And if you DID finally do what He was asking, did you do it joyfully when everything worked out for that person or did you harbor some resentment or sense of entitlement?
Through what we’ve seen of Jonah when God has something that He has asked you to do, it is better to just do it than to try to talk your way out of it. Obedience when we don’t “feel like it” shows not only our character but also our relationship with Christ.
One last question. Since vacation season is coming upon us… Are you running from God? If so, I don’t recommend renting that scuba gear!! You might be in for the strangest beach trip ever!