It's kind of funny how as we get older wonder and awe becomes sophistication and suspicion. That is our view of Jonah. As a child, Jonah was awesome. It had a huge fish swallowing a guy and then he throws him up on a shore of a city that was pretty evil-see the book of Nahum-and he was called by God to go there!!
What has happened as we become 'mature adults', is we use Jonah as a story to tell our kids, 'HEY! Straighten up! Follow God or this will happen to you! You will be swallowed by a fish! Spend a few days sloshing around in some gastric juices!' But honestly-that's what we do! Don't be Jonah because of this...don't be Thomas because of what he did here...don't be Sarah because she laughed here...and even Moses-don't be Moses because of what he did here...
When we start to sort people of the Bible into good/bad lists we are running the risk of becoming hypocritical, religious prunes. We need to realize that these stories are our stories. Stories of sin and redemption, death and new life. Like never before I realize my life is a lot like Jonah's. The Lord called me to ministry after high school, and I said no. Did I get on a ship like Jonah and head to Tarshish? No, but I believe 1 degree off is as good as 180 when we are talking about God's will for our lives.
So what is your Jonah story? The book of Jonah is 4 chapters-first 2 he runs away, swallowed up, says an awesome prayer inside the fish. The next 2 chapters-overturns an entire city for God. Does he still struggle? Sure. But God still uses him. I think for some of us we are still stuck in the first 2 chapters. Is it because we are still figuring out what sin is? Maybe. Or is it because you are too afraid that if people knew about your past life, things would change? Or is it that you truly believe that God has nothing more for your life than attending church and sitting in the same seat for the next 50 years? Sorry if your toes are getting stepped on, but my heart yearns to see God's people move. That we hear the word of the LORD and begin to move. Chapter 1 starts with the word of the LORD and Jonah goes the opposite direction. Chapter 3 starts with the word of the LORD and Jonah obeys. Is the LORD speaking to you? Is he leading, directing, pushing, guiding, or maybe even leading you through a wilderness so that you would obey him??
Frankly-I hope I become like Jonah. I live to be more like Christ, but along the way if I become more like Jonah, I'm good with it. A man called by God, messed up, repented, and then turned an entire city towards God!!! Yeah, I'll take that.