I have a dear Christian mentor named Don Hicks. He pastors in Campbellsburg, IN and since meeting him back in 2006- he and I have had a connection. I respect the man and every time I speak to him, he encourages and challenges me. He also performed the ceremony when Yvonne and I were married.
Not long ago, Don called me and we were talking about Jonah. Yeah, Jonah and the fish..
1 The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”
3 But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish.
4 But the Lord hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart. 5 Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship.
But all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold. 6 So the captain went down after him. “How can you sleep at a time like this?” he shouted. “Get up and pray to your god! Maybe he will pay attention to us and spare our lives.”
7 Then the crew cast lots to see which of them had offended the gods and caused the terrible storm. When they did this, the lots identified Jonah as the culprit. 8 “Why has this awful storm come down on us?” they demanded. “Who are you? What is your line of work? What country are you from? What is your nationality?”
9 Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.”
10 The sailors were terrified when they heard this, for he had already told them he was running away from the Lord. “Oh, why did you do it?” they groaned. 11 And since the storm was getting worse all the time, they asked him, “What should we do to you to stop this storm?”
12 “Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.”
13 Instead, the sailors rowed even harder to get the ship to the land. But the stormy sea was too violent for them, and they couldn’t make it. 14 Then they cried out to the Lord, Jonah’s God. “O Lord,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O Lord, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.”
15 Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once! 16 The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him.
17 [a]Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.
The story goes on about how the fish spit Jonah out and how he eventually went to Nineveh. Now-believe it or not, this story is NOT about Jonah, not even about a fish. In 48 verses, Jonah is mentioned 24 times. The fish is mentioned 3 times. The Lord/God is mentioned 38 times. This story is about the Lord.
See, God wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh. Jonah didn’t want to. Nineveh was a godless place. The people there were immoral, ruthless and it was just a nasty place. They probably had a high crime rate and bad cell phone service!
Jonah attempted to run from God. He did for awhile. He boarded a ship heading in the opposite direction. However, God’s pursuit is relentless. God sent a storm to get Jonah’s attention. The storm that Jonah was in, makes us realize that “Storms are NOT always God’s punishment, sometimes they are God’s pursuit.” Jonah is a story of God’s relentless pursuit.
See God wants our attention, yet He desires MORE than that. He wants our devotion and our obedience. He speaks to us thru His word, thru godly counsel and His Holy Spirit. If we are not listening He WILL get our attention.
I have found that God whispers at first, if we don’t listen, He knocks. If we don’t answer the door, He will come through that door.
Is God trying to get your attention?
Is He wanting you to step out on faith and you are “running the other direction?”
Is God calling you to be a more devoted man/woman of His gospel?
Is He calling you to be a better husband/wife?
Is the Holy Spirit dealing with you over a “secret sin”?
He WILL get our attention, one way or another. Sometimes, it takes us to LOSE EVERYTHING for God to get our attention. His pursuit is relentless.
His pursuit is for our ULTIMATE good. He desires that we be more like His Son Jesus.
As I was preparing this, God began to deal with me over some issues in my life. Yvonne and I have been praying for some time now for The Lord to use us, more than He ever has before. I am drawing a line in the sand today. God- I will go where YOU send me, Lord, use me to spread YOUR gospel and be the Husband/Father you have created me to be.
In what area of your life is He trying to get your attention?