The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city, and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare, and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. (Jonah 1:1-3)
Last month I saw Jonah at the Sight and Sound Theater. At the end of the show the audience was asked, “What is your Nineveh?” That question has been rattling around in my brain since. So what am I fleeing from? What am I not trusting God with? There are probably multiple things if I would allow myself to think about it in depth. That is what Jonah probably did. He didn’t think…he reacted. He couldn’t possibly go to Nineveh. A wicked people that certainly didn’t deserve God’s grace. His choice caused him much grief, being thrown overboard and swallowed by a big fish. Spending 3 days in the belly of the fish woke him up to the fact that God was perhaps rescuing him. He then cried out to God, repented and followed through with the mission to Nineveh.
Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. (Jonah 3:4-5)
When God saw the Ninevites had turned from their wicked way He didn’t destroy them. This displeased Jonah. Even though he had experienced God’s grace he didn’t extend that grace to Nineveh. He allowed his fear and anger of who they were to keep him from the extending that grace.
How many times have I missed out on God’s grace because I ran the other way? Too many times I have allowed fear to rule my thinking or perhaps I should just call it what it is…prejudice. How many times have I not acted because I felt the person needing God’s grace didn’t deserve it. After all they are living with the consequences of their bad choices.
God, in His great mercy, has put me in a job where I deal with people in need every day. By nature I am a very compassionate person and have always extended that to those that deserved it. Ah! my point! Do any of us deserve it? God gives it freely. He is using my compassionate nature on a daily basis to interact with those I traditionally would say deserve AND to those that I traditionally would say don’t. He is changing my heart. I have begun praying for the latter after I get off the phone with them.
What is your Nineveh?
Oh Lord help me to stay focused on you and your word that I might not miss those Nineveh opportunities and be able to extend the grace you give to me to others. Amen.