Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Jonah: An Appointment With God

Jonah: An Appointment With God

By Kevin Probst

Jonah shook his fist in the face of God. God could have said 'good riddance' to Jonah but instead he pursued Jonah with patience and love.

Do you remember the dread of being called to the principal's office when you were a kid? I suppose some were so well behaved as to have never had to experience that dread. It seems I was as familiar with the principal's office as I was my own room at home. I spent a lot of time there.

I learned as a kid to distinguish the tone in my mother's voice. She often would say, "You're dad wants this or your dad wants that" but when she used the word FATHER I knew I was in trouble. "Kevin, your FATHER wants to see you." She stretched the word 'father' like a rubber band.

Jonah was, in a sense, called to the principal's office. "Jonah, I want to see you. I've prepared a special place, a secluded and private place where we can sit down and talk without interruption." Jonah 1:17 says, "…the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah." God didn't just prepare a fish, he 'appointed' a fish. The fish was sent on a mission to find a man floundering in the sea.

When we get in the habit of ignoring God he sometimes chooses to go to extraordinary means to get our attention and arrange for a serious discussion. God took Jonah into the belly of a fish. I know of no one else who has experienced anything quite like that. But God has taken me to places of seclusion in my past. He has spoken to me on the roof of my college dormitory, he has spoken to me as I walked along a secluded country road, he has spoken to me as I've studied with half dozen other students in the quietness of the library. He most often speaks to my heart in moments of quietness.

There were no interruptions in the belly of the whale. No television blaring. No telephones ringing, No voices of children playing or sounds of music. Jonah was totally focused on God. If we choose to obey God when he speaks we can avoid a lot of hardships in life. Immediate and total obedience will allow us to avoid a lot of storms, shipwrecks and whales.

I'm glad God pursued Jonah. The people of Nineveh were especially grateful that God didn't give up on Jonah. I'm glad that God didn't give up on me when I was disobedient and full of myself. A loving God was determined to seek out his wayward servant. I take great comfort in realizing how faithful and persistent God is when I pray for lost friends and loved ones.

Jonah teaches us that God is a God of second chances. "Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time." (Jonah 3:1) Haven't we all been in need of a second chance? The second chances I've received in my life are numerous. When you are floundering about in the belly of a whale, when you are tired of having no direction in your life, when you're tired of the suffering brought on by your own disobedience God is waiting with open arms.

In my darkest hour, in my lowest moment when there seemed to be no hope he tepped in and he reminded me that if I would "ask anything in his name, he would do it." (John 14:14) He whispered into the darkness of my soul, "I am the Door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." (John 10:9)

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

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