THE BOOK OF JONAH begins with the rebellion of the prophet against God. Unwilling to submit to God’s plan led him to flee from God. Jonah boarded a ship going in the opposite direction from Nineveh.
Jonah seemed to have the wishful idea of getting far away from God. A prophet who had a mission at hand tried to find a way out of a responsibility that he considered distasteful. Can we ever run away from the Lord? Surely not! I remember, as a MYFer I was singing “O, sinner man where will run to? Run to the sea, the sea won’t hide me … ”
An unwilling heart soon meets an unexpected storm! The journey that Jonah chose brought near disaster not only to him but also to all those sailors on board that ship heading for Tarshish. Faced with the life-threatening storm even those pagan sailors understood the need to call upon their gods to calm the storm. Not Jonah – he had hardened his heart and was fast asleep at the lower deck.
Are life’s storms a means for us to return to the Lord? How do we deal with unexpected responsibilities that come into our planned lives whilst knowing of God’s love and power?
Responding negatively is to harden our hearts against God and this is the greatest tragedy of our relationship with God.
Jonah chose death over obedience to God. He told the sailors to throw him into the sea to save their lives. Was this Jonah’s attempt at suicide? Then it was a terrible tragedy indeed!
We cannot seek God’s love on our own terms. God had to show Jonah that what He needed him to do was more important than his fears. After three days in the belly of the big fish, he was literally spat onto the shore of Nineveh where he preached God’s message for repentance.
A willing heart, a heart that beats for God, will never come to a tragic end. God always displays His absolute, yet loving guidance, to those who do not run away from Him.
The Rev James Nagulan is the President of Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference.
Hurt people hurt people
IT IS A FACT that “hurt people hurt people … ”
They usually dislike themselves and criticise others in a misguided eﬀort to validate themselves. If one of these injured souls lobs a criticism grenade in your direction, defuse it with understanding. Part of considering the source is seeking awareness of what that person may be going through.
Once I was praying during worship, a few moments before preaching. Eyes closed, focusing on God, I felt someone slip a note into my hand. I never saw who it was, but the note was marked “Personal”. I thought to myself, “Someone probably wrote a nice note to encourage me before I preach.” A warm, loving feeling settled over me as I unfolded the paper.
A moment later, I lost that loving feeling.
Evidently, the note was from a woman who had tried to see me on Friday, my day oﬀ. She took oﬀence at my absence and blasted me with hateful accusations. is happened literally seconds before I was to stand up to preach.
In that moment, I had a choice. I could internalise the oﬀence and become demoralised and discouraged. Or I could ask myself, I wonder what she’s experiencing that caused her to lash out?
I chose compassion over depression. My heart hurt for her. I knew that such a disproportionate reaction must indicate deep pain, so I didn’t take her note personally.
Consider the source. And consider the possibility that the jab may have come from an injured heart. Dismiss it and move on. If you don’t, you may become the very thing you despise. – KneEmail.
Craig Groeschel, writing in Confessions of a Pastor: Adventures in Dropping the Pose and Getting Real with God, page 106.