>I read Jonah one day this week in my quiet time. It is such a familiar story, and it is so easy to criticize Jonah for running from God and then for being angry about God’s forgiveness toward the Ninevites.
But somehow it was not easy for me to be critical this time around, especially when I came to Jonah 4:2 which reads, “He prayed to the LORD and said, ‘Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.'” Jonah 4:2 (NASB)
Meanwhile, I have also been studying through James. James 4:17 specifically came to mind.
Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:17 (NASB)
How many times do we fall into this same trap? I know I have to ask myself…how many times do I not want to change my attitude, let go of something I would rather cling to, put myself out there to risk a relationship I would rather not risk, be on hold in life, or be challenged when I’d rather be comfortable? In the process of focusing on me, people around me are dying, just as surely as if they were in a ship at the mercy of the seas or in a city doomed to destruction.
I know God’s character just as Jonah did. Truthfully, I love to see Him work! I love it when His presence is written all over hearts, lives, and circumstances. I love to see Him open blind eyes and soften harden hearts. And I love to be His vessel. Yet I still resist so many times. I still try to run off to my Tarshish, delaying His work in the lives He wants to touch through me.
When God chooses to work among a person or people who are ripe for repentance, it is not going to necessarily be pretty. It is not going to be easy. It is going to take us out of our comfort zones. And it might even mean that we have to interact with people we would rather stay far away from. Can we dive in anyway? Can we go headlong into obedience, knowing that He is a compassionate God and that His results will be incredible? Can we watch His hand with joy instead of bitterness? He wants us to be a part of His work! I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to join Him!