When Jonah the prophet was ordained by God to speak to Nineveh (the capital city of Assyria, an enemy of Israel) about impending doom due to their sin, he ran away to Tarshish. Jonah knew God to be gracious, merciful, loving and kind. Being a patriotic Israelite, he wanted nothing to do with Nineveh and had much less interest in being instrumental in saving it from destruction. He preferred to die rather than save the people of the city so he allowed himself to be flung overboard into a violent sea.
But know-it-all-Jonah had no idea God could be so dramatic as to let him get up close and personal with the insides of a sea creature just so he learns a lesson. Finally, Jonah was ready to obey the Lord. People of Nineveh heard this suicidal, resentful prophet from Israel and everything that had breath fasted, the people and the King repented and God relented from consuming the city in His wrath.
Jonah who just saved a whole city got resentful and angry and cried out to God “I told you so!”, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”
You can have revelation and wisdom. You can be bold enough to face death with a sneer like Jonah. You can know the kindness, mercy, love and other attributes of God and live your life in this absolute knowledge. You can go through the most supernatural experience and come out alive by the hand of God. Everywhere you go people may turn to God and be saved. Kings may repent at your words. You can do all this and yet miss the point.
You may have heard the gospel but decided you don’t need such good news. You may have grown up in a Christian home since day one, just going with the flow. You may be someone who met Christ halfway through your life but you are watching the first love ebb away. You may be someone who has been fairly stable all your life and yet that’s all you are. You may be someone who knows much about God and His ways but you still find yourself in experiences like Jonah in the belly of a fish.
Whoever you are or whatever your story is, God is always trying to make you understand what your life and purpose is about. Don’t miss the point. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The whole reason why there is still breath in you is so that you can be saved or you can save someone else.
Jonah was a prophet, he understood more about God than many in his generation. Yet he missed the point that he had a mission. Just like Jonah, Jesus had the ministry of reconciliation. Today that ministry rests on us. Dear brothers and sisters, we have been ordained by God Almighty with a task to go out and preach the gospel. May God find you and me, obedient to His will and word.