Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 108; 150, Jonah 1:1-17a, 1 Corinthians 10:15-24, Matthew 18:15-20
Most of us remember Jonah from childhood Sunday School classes, and mostly how he was swallowed by a great fish and spit up on shore. In some Christian circles the fish and the attempts to explain how it could have “really happened” are such a focus that the more important points of the story blur in the background. Jonah is a book about God’s love for all people, even the people we don’t love ourselves.
The first chapter opens as God commands Jonah to deliver a message to Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrians, who for a long time were Israel’s captors. Jonah decides to head in the opposite direction toward the port city of Tarshish in the west. This decision doesn’t pan out well. The Lord sends a great storm to trouble the ship Jonah has chosen, and it doesn’t cease until the crew members throw Jonah overboard because they realize he has angered the Lord.
Are we ever like Jonah? Do we ever head the opposite direction from where the Lord would have us go? Intentionally or not, we all make that mistake sometimes. Maybe we don’t like what God is asking us to do, or the people he’s asking us to do it for. Maybe we are too preoccupied with our own concerns to hear the call. Maybe we think we’ll answer later. Maybe we’re too busy justifying a fish story to see the greater truth behind it.
When we turn our face away from God, we can expect some rough weather. Probably not our own personal tsunami or mammoth tuna, but our lives won’t be what they could. Even if everything appears fine to outside eyes, inside we will know things are off kilter. When we ignore God’s call, the repercussions play out in our lives not as punishments but as natural consequences. A nagging lack of peace and contentment ripples through and distorts all our relationships to other people, God, and ourselves. As we will explore throughout our reading of Jonah, we will know we are heading toward God when we are heading toward reconciliation.
Comfort: Even if we move away, God is waiting for us to come back.
Challenge: Throughout your day, stop regularly to assess whether your actions are leading you toward or away from God’s call.
Prayer: God of Mystery, when you call me I will move toward you. Amen.
Discussion: Have you ever moved away from where God was trying to send you?
Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group or follow @comf_and_chall on Twitter. You’ll have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!