We’ve been going through the book of Jonah the past three Sundays at The Church at Avenue South. Probably anyone who has spent sometime as a kid in Sunday School knows how Jonah is the one who got swallowed by the whale (or more accurately, big fish).
Recently, thanks to some good teaching, I’ve come to see the book a little differently. I see now that the main character of this little book isn’t Jonah, but God.
Jonah is an interesting fellow that I can relate to. A lot. When God calls him to Ninevah, he goes in the complete opposite direction, about as far as you can go in the wrong direction.
Even in the belly of that fish, Jonah essentially prays that God will allow him to go back to Jerusalem to give an offering at the temple. He basically says, “Eh, let’s just forget about the whole Ninevah thing. That wasn’t a good idea anyway.”
Jonah’s message of repentance seems to lean more toward God’s judgment than God’s offer of forgiveness. It’s almost like he’d rather see the city destroyed than for the people to change. After the whole town repents, Jonah throws a hissy fit and sulks.
I can take great comfort in the fact that the good that comes from the book comes not from Jonah’s obedience but from God’s faithfulness. I can trust that God can work in me even in my moments of half-hearted obedience and lukewarm worship.
Does that negate the command for me to pursue God wholeheartedly? Not at all. It simply means that I don’t have to be perfect and have my life all together for God to use me where I am.
I’m not the main character in my own life story. God is. The more I recognize and remember that, the more I will be amazed at what God does in and through me.