Jonah 4

You may or may not be familiar with the life of Jonah.

Jonah was a prophet way back when. God tells him to go to a place to Ninevah to preach to the people there, that they would stop doing all the bad stuff they were doing and instead do good. Jonah receives his mission and runs away, taking the soonest ship to the furthest town. En route, he hits a storm and, in a moment of conviction, asks the crew to throw him overboard. Not knowing what else to do, they do just that. Jonah is swallowed by the sea creature a la Pinocchio and spends three days in the belly of the beast. At that point, he has a change of heart, asks God for a hand out, and God does just that. The creature spits him out and he high-tails it over to Ninevah to ask them also to turn their lives around. In no short time, they do.

And all ends happily ever after, right? I wish. No. Many retellings of Jonah’s life end there, but his life extends to another chapter. In this chapter, he is sitting on a hill looking over the just-saved city of Ninevah, hoping that God will change His mind and blow it up.¬†“Please, Lord, isn’t this what I thought while I was still in my own country? That’s why I fled toward Tarshish in the first place. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and one who relents from sending disaster. And now, Lord, take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live,” says the prophet.¬†Despite all that Jonah has been through, he still wants the Ninevites to die and for God to take him with them.

Fortunately, God doesn’t grant Jonah’s request. Instead, he lets Jonah sit in the hot sun for a good, long while until Jonah is about to faint. Then, He grows up a plant to cover Jonah’s head. Jonah loves his plant because the comfort it provides him. God allows him a moment of solace than kills the plant.

Jonah flips out. When God asks him if his anger is justified, Jonah is 1200% sure that it is. At this, God asks a follow-up question, “You cared about the plant, which you did not labor over and did not grow. It appeared in the night and perished in the night. But may I not care about the great city of Ninevah, which has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot distinguish between their right and their left, as well as many animals?” With that, God drops the mic and Jonah’s story ends there. We don’t know how he responded. In truth, we don’t need to. This is God’s question to us. We all have plants in our lives, things we put in priority over the people all around us. Are we brave enough to let them go and selfless enough to see the needs of others, even if those needs belong to those we don’t see eye to eye with?

The challenge is simple. God is waiting for the answer. Don’t be a Jonah. Answer the call.

The Least of These

Who is the least of these?

We all are. We can be poor of spirit

and poor of money

and beat down and cast out and left alone.

Reach out to your brothers your sisters

your fathers your mothers your uncles

aunts cousins across the world

and across the street

listen to one another

be there and support

“listen listen love love”

for God is good

and we are ALL His children!

Action/Initiative

There are prisoners in jail

There are poor needing food

There are lonely needing friends

There are opportunities to better the lives of others

and ourselves

around every corner

Will you keep your eyes open to see them,

your ears to see them,

your hands to reach them, your feet

to go?

The opportunities are there

Will you accept their invitation?

Riding in the Car with Roger

We met outside church,

you sang those songs you wrote with an old country twang

Susan gave you her coat

Katie and I drove you to Ingles

We talked about God and Jesus and YouTube

You bought us cookies and Coca Cola

and then we dropped you off

outside Homeward Bound.

 

At the time we met,

you were thinking of driving out to California,

but I’m glad you’re thinking about staying.

The world needs more people like you.

For Love to Be Genuine

For love to be genuine,

it must be personal and specific.

Jesus did not simply say, “I love you,” to the crowd and move on.

He called Zacchaeus out of the tree and dined with him.

He met with the woman at the well and counselled her,

unpacking her demons until she danced to a new freedom-song.

My friends, do not let slogans and memes speak for you,

when you speak of love.

Let your heart speak what is true, and empower your flesh

to follow suit. So all will know

that you love them.