1 : ‘One day the Lord spoke to Jonah, son of Amittai.
2 : He said, ‘Go to Ninevah, that great city, and speak out against it; I am aware of how wicked its people are.’
3 : Jonah, however, set out in the opposite direction in order to get away from the Lord.’
So much in three verses.
a) the story is set ‘once upon a time’, and Jonah, the prophet is identified. Jonah means ‘dove’, and is a reminder that God sends us messengers, bearers of His Spirit to help direct our lives towards Him, but that He also sends us as messengers, bearers of His Spirit, into ‘all the world’, including, at times, the darkest places, or into situations from which we’d rather run in the opposite direction
b) God wants to send Jonah to Ninevah (meaning ‘City of Fish’ – truly, this is a fishy tale!), the capital of the Assyrian empire, with a stark message; often it can be easier, more tempting, to remain quiet rather than to speak out. Jonah doesn’t react well to this call upon his life
c) Jonah runs in the opposite direction – it will bring peril to others (the sailors on the boat), and lead to Jonah plummeting headlong into the raging waters
In these verses, can we hear God
a) call us by name, and send us out (in His name) as doves – messengers (of hope and peace), bearers of His Spirit?
b) urge us to ‘speak out’ today, sometimes in situations which may make us feel uncomfortable, but may lead to ‘salvation’, or greater safety / security for others?
c) encourage us not to ‘run from’ what He is asking of us, to trust Him, and not to head in the opposite direction?
Father, hear the prayer we offer
Not for ease that prayer might be
But for strength that we may ever
Live our lives courageously
(thanks to Beth, who created this fabulous picture, during yesterday morning’s 9.30a.m. celebration)