This week, the children will be presenting a musical on the story of Jonah. If you grew up in church, you know the story. A prophet is called by God to go to a savage city called Nineveh. He is hesitant . . . no, he flat-out disobeys God. He doesn’t go to Nineveh; he takes off in the other direction. A storm batters his ship on his flight from God. In ancient times, tempests of this sort were understood as tantrums of the gods. Jonah’s shipmates cast lots to determine who has unsettled the gods. Jonah is identified as the culprit. To make a long story short, he is tossed into the sea, swallowed by a big fish, spit onto dry land. God comes to him a second time. This time he obeys. The story continues with Jonah unenthusiastically making the trek in the right direction. When he arrives in Nineveh, the people respond positively to his message. You might think he would be pleased. Rather, he is disappointed that God has offered salvation to the people of Nineveh. God uses a shade tree to communicate the value of all people to a disheartened Jonah.
As we reflect on this story, we are reminded of our own tendency to walk away from God’s direction. God often calls us to unfavorable places. We resist by ignoring God or even going the other direction. I am not sure how God might be prompting you these days. Perhaps He is calling you to a new vocation or new city. Perhaps he is calling you to greater involvement in a particular ministry. While I cannot determine God’s voice in your life, I am certain that He calls us join Him in His mission. Joining God requires us to submit our way to His way. Jonah was not given a choice in the matter. In time, he was pressed to go God’s route. Perhaps our promptings will not include being swallowed by a fish. Maybe God will urge us in different ways. But God will not acquiesce to our resistance; he will not change His mind. He will not allow us to opt for plan B.
May God give us the strength to heed his calling. May he grant us the joy of walking in His way. May we be unlike Jonah, ready to go with God wherever His mission takes us.