I was reading this morning through the book of Jonah. Now there's a character we can all relate to. We don't like to admit it, but we all act like Jonah from time to time. Here are some ways we often resemble the prophet:
1. We run from God. - We're serving God. Things are going well. We're doing His work, and everyone is happy. Then, God gives us an unpleasant task. We don't want to do it. After all, we're busy doing other things for Him. So, we ignore His command. We turn and run the other way.
2. We fool ourselves into thinking that we're going to get away with our disobedience - Notice how "at ease" Jonah was. He got on a ship, went down below, and fell asleep. In fact, he was still sleeping during the terrible storm. One of the sailors had to wake him up. He was able to rest because he thought he had successfully hidden himself from God. He thought he was home free. He thought he had gotten away with his disobedience. We often do the same. We go along like everything is fine, knowing full well that we're not where we're supposed to be. But, since God let us off the path, He'll let us stay there, right? WRONG!
3. We adjust our attitude when God gets our attention - It didn't take Jonah very long to get a serious attitude adjustment. Nope, by the beginning of chapter two, he's already praying and apologizing. Sometimes, God has to get our attention too. We don't like it, but it doesn't usually take very long before we're whistling a different tune. Jonah had a such a "kick in the pants" that he made a three-day journey in just one day after the whale spat him out.
4. We get mad when God doesn't do what we think He should do - Jonah delivered God's message to the Ninevites. He told them that Ninevah was going to be overthrown because God was unhappy with their wickedness, and the people actually listened. They repented. They turned their hearts to God. Isn't that wonderful? Not to Jonah. Jonah actually got angry with God because He didn't destroy the city. Nice guy, huh? What it boils down to is that Jonah didn't get his way. God didn't do what Jonah thought was best, and Jonah got mad. We do the same thing, don't we? We show God our little blueprint that we've designed and then spit fire when He doesn't follow it.
5. We throw very nice pity parties - Jonah was so upset with God that He actually asked God to just let him die. You can almost hear the unspoken statement, "If you're not going to do it my way, why am I even here?" Yes, Jonah was an excellent pity party host. But, alas, so are we. We fuss and pout when things don't go our way. We get it in our heads that nobody loves us and that nothing ever goes right for us. Poor pitiful us!
6. We are dealt with by a very patient Father - God didn't have to explain to Jonah why he spared the city of Ninevah, but He did. He gave Him an object lesson that I'm sure Jonah never forgot. He could have given Jonah his wish. He could have killed him. But, He didn't. He dealt with him in a loving and patient manner, as He does with us, giving us what we need and not necessarily what we want.
So, the next time you read through the book of Jonah, don't be too hard on him. We're not any better. We make the same mistakes, but thankfully, we know the same God who will forgive us, pick us up, and set us on the right path again. (Just pray you never have to see the inside of a whale!)