So today I’m reading the book of Jonah as part of my annual bible reading plan. I’ve read this book at least 36 times (that’s how many years I’ve been reading the Bible annually) not to mention studying the book in college and in my ministry.
I’m reading along and approaching the fourth chapter thinking, “ok, I’ve got this, I understand what’s happening, Jonah doesn’t want to share God’s message with the people of Nineveh, he runs in the opposite direction, God uses some terribly confused sailors and great fish to capture Jonah’s attention, Jonah is now on his way Nineveh, - yada, yada, yada.” I added the “yada” because I heard my associate pastor do this as he was preaching on Sunday :)
I’m now in chapter 4 and Jonah is complaining to God because He (God) changes His mind about the destruction on Nineveh based upon the people turning in repentance toward Him. I read in verse 2 of chapter 4, “...Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people...”
An initial thought or question is “Did not Jonah care about these people? Did he turn away from his divine assignment because he would rather have seen them destroyed than saved?”
The answer came in the very next verse (3), “Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.” The Lord goes on then to teach Nineveh of His great mercies.
But additionally, what I learned from Jonah today was Jonah made his divine calling about Him and not about what God can do. I think he (Jonah) was more concerned about him being perceived as a genuine prophet (remember in God’s word a prophet who doesn’t predict accurately is not considered God’s prophet). It seems Jonah connected “success” in ministry with what people thought about him. It wasn’t really directly about the response of the people, rather, it was about people accepting Him as God’s appointed spokesperson.
So what’s the lesson to be learned from Jonah? I think the lesson I come away with today is don’t be so consumed with the results of what you are doing for God. Yes, I think we should bear fruit and Jesus said if we followed Him, we would bear much fruit.
However, I do think we can get so consumed with the results and not rest in the anointing, call or divine appointment that God has placed upon our lives.
So whether your in ministry, or a new job in the market place, or in school or in family life, and the results are not what we are hoping for, let us remain faithful in the call, in that anointing, in that place of appointment and trust that God is in control and will have His way. It’s not about us, it’s all about HIM.