Summary: We all wait for that call from God, but what do we do when it comes?
When we hear God’s call, but do not head. The reading this week is a little longer than last, but I decided it was important to read the entire first chapter of Jonah. Everyone is familiar with the story of Jonah being swallowed by the whale, but perhaps not everyone knows why. As we can see from this story, it is because he was trying to run away from God. This was a bad mistake for two reasons. One is that God’s will is always to do what is right, so by running Jonah was choosing to do wrong, and secondly it is impossible. God is everywhere; there is no where to which we can run to escape him. Jonah found this out the hard way and so have others. But in today’s world we do not often hear of things like this happening, and people will say that they have never run away from God.
Well, I will be the first to admit that I have. Although not quite on the scale that Johan did. I ran away in my head. I turned away from God with my thoughts. There have been parts of my life where I started to doubt God. I remember one time in particular, it actually took place in church. I was sitting there looking at all the people in the congregation praying. Suddenly a thought entered my head, “what if all these people are wrong?” And then I started to go through all the arguments I had ever heard against God. At this point I started to think that life would be a lot easier if I didn’t have to worry about heaven and hell and God. There is so much more I would do, if I wasn’t worried about the moral implications. Then something struck me. Nothing makes sense without God. I was all set on rationalizing Him away, but then I realized that when I did this nothing was left. If I got rid of God there was no point. What good would money or power do me? It wouldn’t make me immortal; it would all end in the blink of an eye. The only possible way to become immortal is if there is a God, and we all do have an immortal soul. And if this were true, why would I want my immortal soul to spend eternity in torment. This brought me back to my senses. I remembered all the times that I had felt God in me, either working through me or through others that I had observed.
However, this is not the only way in which it is possible to turn from God. In my case there was not one specific task from which I turned. In some cases people will profess a belief in God with their mouths, but when it comes time to do so with action they are slow to respond, or they try to avoid it all together. Jonah was one of these people. God commanded him to deliver a message to a group of people that Jonah did not want to. He tried to come up with excuses for this. He thought they would kill him if he went, or he thought they did not deserve to be saved. Again two mistakes were made here. One is that Jonah knew better than God. Second, Jonah did not think it was his responsibility to tell these people about their sin. In the book of Ezekiel 33: 8, “When I say to the wicked, ’O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.” Jonah would have been held responsible for all the people of the town that he refused to go to.
When we read the last bit of Jonah, we find that he did actually go to that city and warn them of their sinful ways. And then God showed us His compassion and spared those people. However, this made Jonah mad; he was upset, because what he had predicted would not come true.
5 Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city.
6 Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine.
7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered.
8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, "It would be better for me to die than to live."