Not My Finest Hour
Gracious God, You know very well how often I’d rather go my way than Yours. Forgive and help me, I pray.
Read JONAH 1:1-17
 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai:  “Go to the great city of 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.  Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.  All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep.  The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish.”  Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.  So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”  He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.”  This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the LORD, because he had already told them so.)  The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”  “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”  Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before.  Then they cried to the LORD, “O LORD, please do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O LORD, have done as you pleased.”  Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm.  At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him.  But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat was Jonah's big mistake here?
It is not surprising that Jonah preferred a trip to Spain (to which the name “Tarshish” may refer) rather than Nineveh, the capital city of the feared Assyrians. But what happened next was really scary. Jonah’s disobedience was totally exposed and he was forced to make a decision: to persist in his wrongdoing or put himself into God’s hands. Jonah has a great picture of a loving God (4:1,2) and courageously trusts him with his life. King David had a similar choice (1 Chron. 21:13) and responded as Jonah did, “Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great.”
Are we like Jonah, sleeping in the storm and letting others suffer because of our lack of action, or are we like the sailors and the doomed people of Nineveh? Even if we have messed up badly in the past, or failed to do what we know we should, it is time to be brave and face it. God is merciful and compassionate. Like David and like Jonah, we can trust his great mercy. Sometimes, that’s all we can do!
Bring any situation you are concerned about to God. Ask him to guide you; then begin to obey.
I trust You, O Lord, and all Your ways. Guide me, I pray, and help me to be an obedient child who pleases You.
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