Monthly Archives: September 2013

jonah-coloring-pageThe Jonah Syndrome:  Part 2

Jonah 1:1-3

The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD. – Jonah 1:1-3

Continuing from my previous post:

How is it that Jonah, who is a prophet, gets himself to the point of being able to completely disregard the Lord’s instructions, and head in the opposite direction?  Personal experience suggests that it begins in the small compromises.

Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. – Song of Solomon (Songs) 2:15

The small sacrifices of character that we make in seemingly insignificant matters end up mattering quite a bit in the long run.  Before long, like walking mindlessly along the beach, we look up, and find ourselves so far away from our point of origin that it is hard to believe.  We have no clue of what Jonah’s spiritual condition was.  It is pure speculation, but I would venture that he has made some compromises in his convictions, and had trained himself to tell God, “No”.  A dangerous position indeed, as we will find out.

Jonah 1:4

Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. – Jonah 1:4

God, in His mercy, is unwilling to let Jonah off the hook that easily.  His love for Jonah is too much for Him to watch Him run away, and His love for the people of Nineveh is too great to send His judgment without one final opportunity to turn from their evil.  Jonah is now caught up in such a fierce storm, that it seems to threaten not only his life, but the lives of those around him.

Our sin of disobedience can put us in a position of great danger.  An old saying is, “The safest place on earth is the center of God’s will.”  When we run from God, refusing to listen to his voice, and remain hell-bent on having our own way… we are in danger.  Not necessarily from God, but from the consequences of our own actions.  As humans, we are remarkably adept at self-destruction.  From our own thoughts, which constantly tear us down, to our addictions that hold us in chains, we can’t seem to get out of our own way.

The scriptures say, “Then the LORD sent a great wind…” but actually, the storm was Jonah’s own doing.  If he would have obeyed, there would have been no wind… no storm.

How often do we, from our miserable states look up to heaven, and ask God, “Why me!!??”  In reality, God may have sent the storm, but only after it was first crafted by our own hands.

To be continued…

Jonah and the Whale

The Jonah Syndrome:  Part 1

While riding my motorbike to the gym today, I felt God put it in my heart to study and share about Jonah, entitling it:  “The Jonah Syndrome.”  Quite pleased with the creative title, I Googled it to see if it has been used before.  Apparently, it has, and not just once or twice.  Sigh… there are no more original thoughts left in the world, but there are still good thoughts recycled, so here we go.  I am not going to read those other articles, sermons and commentaries, although I normally like to go into a subject well researched.  I am electing to just read, listen to the Lord, and share my thoughts based on my observations and previous knowledge about the story.  Reader, beware.

Introduction:

Jonah has it rough.  Along with Peter and Thomas, Christians love to beat up on Jonah.  Now, the criticisms are not without merit, but I think much can be learned of Jonah… especially, the Jonah inside each of us.  Specifically, I want to focus on what I am going to call “The Jonah Syndrome”.  This is the act of intentionally not listening to God’s voice.  I propose that this malady is much more prevalent than any of us would like to admit.

I am a huge fan of “The X-Files.”  Don’t judge me.  It was a truly brilliant sci-fi series and featured well woven plots, acting and creative story lines.  In Season 3, there is an episode, “Revelations” that has a great closing line.  I won’t go into detail about the episode, but the events shake agent Dana Scully, bringing her to make confession to a priest for the first time in many years, and this dialogue ensues:

Reverend Finley: Sometimes we must come full circle to find the truth. Why does that surprise you?

Scully: Mostly, it just makes me afraid.

Reverend Finley: Afraid?

Scully: Afraid that God is speaking… but that no one’s listening.

Jonah 1:1-3

The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD. – Jonah 1:1-3

Jonah is a prophet.  He doesn’t just hear from God, but He is chosen by God to be God’s voice to the people of His generation.  He is in ministry, if you will.  God speaks clearly to Jonah, giving him a missionary call to bring His message to another nation.  Jonah has no problem hearing God’s voice, but he has EVERY problem with obedience.  After receiving clear communication he gets on a boat… and goes the exact opposite direction of where God has told him to go.  Why does Jonah disobey?  Well, he has some pretty good reasons.  For starters, the Assyrians liked to take their enemies and impale them on long wooden spikes sticking out of the ground.  It’s probably not exactly like the summer mission trip you did when you were 16.  He is also probably dealing with issues of racism and spiritual pride, as we will learn later in the story.

Hearing God’s voice is great.  You feel connected, spiritual and your quiet times are filled with a sense of purpose.  Spiritual passion and fervor is on the rise, and everything seems solid.  Then, one day, it happens:  God speaks, and you no likey.  At this point, you reach an internal crisis; do you obey, or disobey?  Due to conscience, many of us do not reach the point of complete disobedience, so we delay and distract ourselves.  We wallow in indecision, pledging to get around to some decisive action soon, but before too long, our indecision has brought us to the place of disobedience.

To be continued…