Focal Passage: Jonah 1:15-2:10
Every believer in Christ has a testimony. And all of them are great! No matter the background or condition of a person before they met Christ, one thing every believer has in common — we were dead in our sin!
Not half-dead, or a little dead, but dead-dead. Spiritually dead! But God made us alive!
I don’t have a testimony of salvation that would make most people’s hair stand up, shed tears, or juicy enough to make a TBN documentary. But God rescued me from death and has declared me righteous because of Jesus!
However, I do have quite a story of my “call” to pastoral ministry. To make that long story short, I ran from God’s call on my life to pursue pastoral ministry. I grew up as a pastor’s kid. My grandfather was a pastor. Two of my great-grandfathers were pastors. That’s a lot of pastors in the family and I didn’t want to be just another one. But God outran me.
It’s likely not an accident that you are where you are, as you are, in this season of life.
You may know someone who has been running from God’s call on their life. It may be you! Quit running! The message of Jonah fits right in with anyone running from God.
In some of the letters by C.S. Lewis, he described his own journey of running from God. A few of my favorite quotes, “I gave in and admitted God was God”, “I’m being dragged through the doorway”, “The existence of God is not something I wished to be true.” And my favorite: “Terrible things are happening to me.
The Spirit is showing an alarming tendency to become much more personal and is taking the offensive and behaving just like God. You’d better come on Monday or sooner or I may have entered a monastery.”
Even at this point, Lewis had not settled on how to deal with Jesus. But what he is describing is this: God’s grace is more powerful than our ability to run from Him.
As we dive into Jonah (no pun intended), consider that the book is not so much about Jonah’s ability, but about God’s character. One of the lessons I think I learned as a kid hearing this story was, “obey God or a fish will eat you.”
think I feared more about swimming in deep water than I did fearing and obeying God. Ultimately, the book of Jonah is less of a story about a fish and obeying God than it is of a story about God’s character, His mercy and loving pursuit of sinners.
Jonah centers around the grand theme of the Bible: “the manifestation of God’s unearned grace to rebels who have sinned against Him.” God’s relentless and compassionate pursuit of rebels like you and me.
One of the wild twists of this story: the storm and the fish are not sent to pay Jonah back for his sin, but to bring Jonah back to God’s purposes. It was not merely out of anger toward Jonah, but affection toward Jonah.
It was not Jonah’s retribution, but discipline that served toward his restoration. In spite of our running, there’s always grace more powerful than our ability to run! B&R