Saturday, August 1, 2020

The Story of Jonah


STUDY THE SCRIPTURE


Click here to access the reading from Jonah 1-4 

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REFLECTION

The Story of Jonah – My Story
by Mary McGinnis

I have heard the story of Jonah dozens, if not hundreds to times since the time I was a child. It might be easy for me to dismiss it as familiar, and not be open-hearted to a message God may have for me.

So, as we read this story again, I invite you to ask, 

“God, what would you have me hear from You today?  
How do You want me to see myself in this story?  
How do You want to change my hard heart to a soft heart through Your Word today?”

Let’s look at the different players in the story. Where do you see yourself?

Jonah – in chapter one, runs away from God. He hears God’s calling. But it does not match up with his plans for his life, so he runs away (or at least he tries) and goes in the completely opposite direction. Where in your life have been going in opposite direction of where God is calling you?

The sailors on the boat - They cry out to their gods to save them from the terrible storm. When Jonah points them to the One TRUE God, they cry out to Him, and beg Him not to hold them accountable for throwing Jonah overboard. The storm stops. Are you in the midst of a storm?  Are You crying out to the Lord even when it does not make sense?

Jonah – As he is downing after being thrown overboard, Jonah gets swallowed by a big fish. Jonah cries out to the Lord in his distress. And after 3 days and 3 nights, God rescues him by commanding the fish to vomit him up. Jonah now obeys God’s mission for him. When has God give you a second chance? Is He offering you a second chance right now?

The Ninevites – These people did not know God, and they had done many evil things. When they heard God’s warning through the voice of Jonah, they softened their hearts, and in genuine, sorrowful remorse, they cried out to God for forgiveness and committed to living differently. How is God’s voice trying to warn you?  Are you responding with the humility of a softened, repentant heart?

Jonah – Becomes angry with God. Perhaps he felt humiliated that what he told the Ninevites did not come true (he had a need to be right). Maybe he despised the Ninevites so much, he was angry that God did not destroy them. How is God asking you to let go of your need to be right?  How is He leading you to see others, not with contempt, but with compassion?  How is God’s compassion toward you or toward others inviting you to soften your heart?

Prayer Practice: Pray Scripture. Prayerfully re-read the full story of Jonah, asking God to show you where you are in the story. Are you like Jonah, running away? Are you like the sailors, crying out to God in fear? Or like Jonah, praying inside the big fish? Maybe like Nineveh, repenting of sin? Or like Jonah at the end of the story, consumed by anger and hard-heartedness toward God or toward others? Let God’s Spirit speak to you as you prayerfully re-read this incredible story and ask God to soften your heart. 

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