The Man Who Ran

“Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” Jonah 3:2 (NIV)

The story of Jonah which you’re probably familiar with, has several elements that cause the reader to chuckle. Number 1 on the list, or course, is the great, big fish that swallowed Jonah. But the story also has some things that most people can relate to—namely, running away from God.

If you’ll recall, the story begins with God telling Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh. The people of this city were very wicked, and they desperately needed a word from the Lord. Unfortunately, Jonah despised the people of Nineveh and wanted no part in going there. He foolishly thought he could outrun God, so he went the opposite direction that God told him to go.

Have you acted like Jonah? Have you ever tried to get away from God? I have, and I bet you have, too. I wasn’t successful, and you probably weren’t either. You see, God will use whatever measures are necessary to get our attention.

God gave Jonah a three-day timeout in the belly of the fish to grab his attention. When Jonah finally repented, God caused the fish to spit him up on dry land. And then God did the most amazing thing. He gave Jonah a second chance. However, his instructions were the same as at the beginning of the story: Go to Nineveh.

While Jonah was a “comeback kid” in the sense that he finally did what God asked of him, his heart wasn’t in it. We always have the choice to follow obediently or to do it grudgingly. Sometimes, like Jonah, we have a hard time following God. The cool thing that we learn about God in this story is that He has a lot of patience with stubborn people like Jonah…and like you and me.

Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind. Psalm 26:2 (NIV)

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