Undone by Jonah

October 1, 2010

I just finished my third message in a four-part series on the life of Jonah. I can’t say how much this little book had “undone” me. It began by reading Suprised by Grace by Tullian Tchivigian. I thought that perhaps I’d preach this because it had a powerful message for the Church, which it does. But honestly I was a bit like Jonah, because I thought the bad guys were “out there” in Nineveh, needing to be crushed. How often do we pray, “God do a work in those people.”

But maybe God wants to do a work in . . . I don’t know . . . me, perhaps? So God reveals our stubborness, the areas where we go to Tarsus when HE wants us to go to Nineveh. And what I’m finding is that like Jonah, I think its all about me and my message and my reputation, etc. My ministry, we like to say.

God says, “Nah, not really. Watch this. I’ll take a washed up prophet with a five-word message and I’ll work revival in teh most evil country in the known world.”

What a book Jonah is. If you’re in Chicago area on Sunday. Stop by at 6pm at Gages Lake Bible Church. I will also post the message online here and at the church site soon.

I wanted to include the closing part of my message here:

Every day God asks us to face our Nineveh’s, those missions in life that we just don’t want to do. And I think, like Jonah, we don’t want to go, because of the greatness of the task. Nineveh was a giant task. Too big for us. But God says to go and He’ll do the reviving, we just be faithful.

I think of my Nineveh. Honestly, my Nineveh is fatherhood. IF there is one area of life that intimidates me by its bigness, its to be a good Dad. I feel comfortable leading a church and preaching. But doing the hard work of fathering is intimidating and I often want to shrink back. I’ll, like Jonah, go 1,000 miles the other way—work harder at what I’m comfortable with, then go 500 miles to Nineveh.

Maybe for you its obeying God’s call to purity as a young person. Or to love your wife or respect your husband. Or maybe its talking to that neighbor who seems so alienated from the gospel.

Like Jonah, I lack the faith to see that God can take me, broken and incompetent, and help me lead revival in my family. We don’t see the work God is doing in the Nineveh he is calling us to.

But every day God is ready to start anew with me and start anew with you. “The victorious Christian life,” said George H. Morrison, “is a series of new beginnings.

Maybe you’re marriage is your Nineveh. Maybe you’re parenting is your Nineveh. Maybe you’re relationships are your Nineveh.

Today, tomorrow, God wants you to get up and He’ll give you a second chance to do what you know you were supposed to do at the first: obey God’s Word.

I want to close by reading this out of the old set of commentaries, Handfuls on Purpose:

“It is easier doing great things for God than little things for the Devil. It was easier for Daniel to go to the lions’ den than deny his God. It was easier for our faithful Scottish martyrs to go to the fires than to deny the faith. But where did Jonah learn this obedience? He learned it where most of us have had to learn it—in the depths, when the floods compassed him about, when the waves and billows passed over him, and the weeds were wrapped about his head. We would not always pity the afflicted if we understood the purpose of God. May God plunge many more into the belly of Hell, if so be that it will bring them to repentance.

– Handfuls on Purpose.