The Whale Impressed Me at First
When I first heard about Jonah, it was the whale who swallowed him that impressed me. (Then, it was easy to confuse Jonah with Pinocchio in the Disney cartoons.) However, each time I studied this short book, I saw an angle on the real Jonah I had not seen before, going from the whale to his willfulness.
In the most recent study, Paul Tripp’s, You Can’t Out Run Grace, I saw a few more angles that became more pointed, sharply reproving me for comfortable, old, obstinate habits and attitudes. But some angles softened, showing resting places, in turbulent times – places to enjoy God’s wonderful sovereignty and cherished care.
Dear Reader: Do you ever think you are too sinful a case for God? Or, that you don’t need the dramatic deliverances described in Jonah?
I have – and still do. 🙁
Here’s how this reexamination of Jonah is helping. I rested on the fact sinful people don’t scare God. Nor, do folks who aren’t so bad impress Him.
He saved really bad people, and a self-righteous, whiny prophet, Jonah, delivering them from destruction — with storms, whales, and even worms. I saw a new angle of sweet comfort: God’s not unwilling or unable to deal with me, or thee.
As God knew Jonah, He knows me, and is not backed off by my sins. He keeps working with me, questioning me as He did Jonah when I try to mount my high horse of self-righteousness:
Do you have a good reason, Barbara, to be angry or anxious, offended, or ignorant?(Jonah 4:1,9)
When I am more upset over things or other people’s peccadilloes than I am over my own faults, I have booked passage on a ship headed away from the grace by which I say I live. (Galatians 2:19-22)
In the end, God asks Jonah a question, but does not record his answer. Rereading Jonah goads me to think about what my answer is.
But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?” ~ Jonah 4:11
Today’s “Ninevites” don’t live in a far off place. They are in our neighborhoods mostly minding their own business. They don’t know and some don’t care that the God is not pleased with their ignorance or defiance. Scarier, some of our Ninevite neighbors are proselytizing. However, many more are hurting, needy, and time-consuming people who make it hard for me to paint, write, and enjoy my own plans.
My own plans. . . the happiest plans I have enjoyed are the ones I let go of, and let God have them. The saddest are the ones I refused to give over to Him for healing.
Jonah’s message to the Ninevites brought them to their knees. (Jonah 3) God’s kindness to Jonah brings me to mine. Not a bad place to be in the uncertainties of today. (Isaiah 33:6) And more reliable than a whale.