I’ve been reading Jonah lately. And I’m curious about something:
Why does God need Jonah so badly?
Why does God chase after him? Why doesn’t God just let Jonah go?
It intrigues me.
We all know the story. God comes to Jonah, who is already an established prophet around the time of Jeroboam II (793-753 BC) [cf. 2 Kings 14:25], and God tells him to go to the city of Nineveh and preach against it.
Presumably, God is hoping the Ninevites will repent and turn from their wicked ways.
Only, Jonah doesn’t want to go. He balks at God’s call. As he’ll explain later in chapter 4, he was afraid of just that. He’s afraid they really will repent and that God will be merciful and forgive them. And Jonah doesn’t want that. So, he runs away.
Jonah goes to Joppa and jumps on a ship headed for Tarshish. In essence, God says, “Go to Nineveh,” and Jonah jumps on a ship and heads the exact opposite direction. So much for obedience.
Only, God doesn’t stop there. God goes after Jonah and pursues him. He sends a terrible storm that nearly sinks the ship just to get Jonah’s attention.
Apparently, God isn’t in the mood to take ‘no’ for an answer.
Why? Why doesn’t God just call someone else to go, someone who will be more compliant with God’s request?
Why is it so important that it be Jonah? Why won’t God let this go?
To be honest, it’s a bit of a mystery to me. God’s persistence is a bit frightening.
The storm He sends threatens the lives of more people than just Jonah. God seems willing to risk Jonah’s life just to change his mind. It’s like the ex-girlfriend who’s so obsessed she just can’t accept that the relationship is over.
Still, I suspect some of us as pastors can identify with Jonah in this.
Sometimes, when God calls us, God doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. God persists. He keeps calling. He keeps pursuing. He keeps drawing.
You can run if you like. You can ignore the call. Bury it deep down and busy yourself with other things. Still God calls.
You can find a great job in a promising field. You can get married, settle down, and start a family. Still God calls.
You can tell yourself that you’re happy, that you can serve God in other ways, that lay ministry is just as good. Still God calls.
No matter what you do there’s always that nagging feeling pulling at you.
Sometimes, God’s call can be unrelenting.
God wants you.
You are that important to God’s plan. Not just anyone will do. Someone else can’t fill that spot so easily. Or, at least, God would prefer not to.
The messenger is as important as the message. And you are the messenger God wants.
So, God keeps calling. He simply won’t let up until you say ‘yes.’
I’m not sure why God is that way. But, it’s the way He was with Jonah. And it’s the way God is with so many of us.
Why do you think that is?