Summary: Despite his tendency to do all those human things—to run away, to try to avoid responsibility—eventually he gets a new life.
Read Jonah 1:1-17; 2:1, 9-10 from "The Message"
God says GO! Jonah says NO! God sends a storm to remind Jonah who is in charge. Jonah is thrown overboard by the others on the ship. Jonah makes the choice to keep trying to run from God. And you know what happens when Jonah is thrown overboard—slurp—swallowed by the big fish. We don’t know what happens—we just know he was in there for 3 days . When I was a child I use to imagine Jonah sitting in there building a little fire—I guess I thought the fish had swallowed some sticks. So Jonah could use those little sticks to build a fire. Don’t ask me how he got that fire started.
When the fish spits Jonah up on dry ground, you can almost see that guy in the old Verizon television ad walking on the beach saying, "Can you hear me now?!" You see what I mean. Finally Jonah was able to proclaim: “I’ll do what I promised I’d do! Salvation belongs to God.”
It isn’t just Jonah’s story. Jonah isn’t the only person in this sanctuary who has tried to run from God. Jonah isn’t the only one whose plans have been interrupted by God. This is more than a story about Jonah. It is our story. It is about all of us. It’s about you. It’s about me.
So I hope that you will begin to think about what this story means to you today, as I’ve tried to think what it means to me today—I want to discover something new about how this story speaks to me now—not how it spoke to me as a child or 30 years ago, 20 years ago or 10 years ago. What word does God have for my life today? What word does God have for your life today? Listen for the word of God for your life in this story today.
JONAH’S STORY IS MY STORY--
(answers to blanks at end of outline)
A. God says “Go that way!” And I say “______ __________!”
B. My behavior affects both me and my ________________.
C. God is faithful to me even though I am not always ___________ to God.
So Jonah’s story is your story and my story. 1: God says GO! Jonah says NO! I say NO and you say NO!
God sends a storm to remind Jonah who is in charge. How many times have you experienced a storm in your life and then you came to a new realization, as did Jonah: “Nothing is going to harm me, deliverance is of the Lord.”
And when the ugly circumstances of life finally throws you up on solid ground, you can almost hear God say, "Can you hear me now? Wake up now, you can make a new choice—one that leads to new life!"
You have been called by God. The calling may not be a big thing like finding the cure for cancer. The call may be as simple as moving in a new direction, taking another journey of faith so that you can continue in your spiritual growth. The call may be to renew a commitment in a relationship. It may be a call to a new job; to a ministry in this church.
But I believe that whatever God has called you to, God will not set you up to fail. God will go with you every step of your new journey. So today it’s your choice—you can do it the easier way or the hard way.
Could this be the word of the Lord to you today, the same words God spoke to the Israelites as they prepared to cross the Jordan River to enter the Promised Land?