The story of Jonah has always been intriguing to me...not so much because of the whale or that Jonah survived for three days in his belly but because of how far Jonah was willing to go to 'out run' God and how far God was willing to go to find him.
We know that this second time that God came to Jonah occurs after Jonah heard him once and didn't want to go to Nineveh and in his running away finds himself in an unfortunate situation with some surly sailors in a boat on a stormy sea. Jonah gets thrown overboard; sure to drown in the rough waters. God, however, has other plans. A giant fish shows up, swallows Jonah, and there he stays, safe and sound until he can take no more and cries out to God for help. God hears him and orders the fish to spit him out.
THIS is where we find dear Jonah when God says to him a second time "Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you."
Sound familiar? You hear a calling, feel a nudge, have a sense of something greater - then run; as far and fast as you can only to get caught up in some sort of quandary where the only way out is to pray. So God does what God does best and He rescues you...only to issue the same calling, nudge the same nudge, urge you to something greater.
This is where I often find myself during Lent. The examination of my faith journey, the review of my sins and the resulting repentance and the call to discipleship I hear during Lent is often heavy and I find myself wanting to run. Run to a place of comfort, of solace and of grace - back into my comfortable life of worship, prayer, Bible study and service without the need for self-examination, repentance and witness. I am a runner. I am an evader. I am Jonah.
But thankfully, God is God and God will pursue me to the all corners of the Earth, even to the depths of the ocean where He will send a giant fish to swallow me up to keep me safe until I realize that I am utterly, 100%, completely and totally dependent upon God's grace and mercy rather than my own skills and abilities. Then I will be spit out and God will, once again, ask me to be a faithful disciple and witness to my God of grace and mercy.
That's all that God asks of us.
Let us pray:
Lord God, thank you for being persistent in chasing us down, as we run far and fast. Help us to trust in your grace and mercy to lead us to places of growth and prosperity. Amen.