Jonah was on the run. But he wasn’t the only one.
God was hot on his heels.
In the first chapter of the book of Jonah, we actually see God in full-on pursuit of a whole bunch of people.
Let’s start with Jonah. It’s staggering to me that not only did God choose Jonah in the first place — attitude problems and all — but when Jonah ran, God ran after him.
I wouldn’t have. Not me. I would have sent a well-aimed bolt of lightning Jonah’s way. (I don’t like to be sassed.) And then I would have chosen somebody else.
But not God. God had still chosen Jonah, appointed him, equipped him, empowered him, and enabled him to fulfill His call. And He loved him. So He didn’t let Jonah get away with his disobedience. He humbled him, chastened him, redeemed him, and restored him.
At the same time, God, whose heart is “to seek and save the lost,” used Jonah’s tantrum as an opportunity to go after the sailors on the ship in the storm. The pagan sailors who had a lot more godly compassion and concern for Jonah than he showed for them — endangering their lives as he did. The heathens who showed more reverence and respect for God than His own prophet had done.
God met the terrified sailors there in the storm and revealed Himself to them — gave them a glimpse of His mercy and grace, as well as His power and glory. And they fell on their knees and worshiped Him.
Of course the catalyst for all of this was God’s desire to save the people of Ninevah. He looked beyond their sinfulness, and saw them as desperately lost, needing Him. He described them to Jonah as “more than 120,000 people who cannot tell their right hand from their left” (4:11). In other words, totally helpless, like little children.
He didn’t wait for them to come to Him. He was coming to them. Just as soon as Jonah stopped throwing his tantrum.
You know it’s interesting that in most of the Old Testament, we see the nation of Israel as a beacon, a shining light, a country at the crossroads of the world. People from other tribes and nations were always invited to “come.” Come and see the beauty of the Lord. Come and worship at His holy Temple.
But with Jonah, God said, “Let’s go to them.”
Just as He would with Jesus.
Just as Jesus would say to us: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19) And “As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21)
It’s hard to wrap our heads around the kind of relentless love God has for us — and wants us to share with others.
A love that runs hard after us… passionately pursues us… a love that will not let us go.
Maybe that’s why Jesus talked about it so much. Why He told so many parables about seeking and saving, going after the one…the father who ran to embrace his prodigal son.
He even says it’s why He hasn’t come back to take us home yet. Because He’s still running after some of His children, gathering them into His arms. And He’s not willing to leave a single one behind. (2 Peter 3:9)
We can help Him. We can be willing to go and find our future brothers and sisters and tell them the Good News! (Isn’t that an awesome thought?) We can be a part of the process, a part of the pursuit, in a lot of different ways — using whatever gifts and talents and resources He’s given us.
But if He has to — as Jonah could tell us — He’ll even use our tantrums and ‘tudes.
That’s how relentlessly determined He is to love us and love through us.
Remember this week’s Virtual VBS for GrownUp Girls Assignment:
Read: Jonah 1 (again), Psalm 139:1-16, and Hebrews 12:1-11. As you read the Scriptures in Psalms and Hebrews, think about how they relate to the story of Jonah and how they speak to you and your life today. Underline any key words or phrases. Jot down any points you want to remember.
Memorize: Hebrews 12:11
You can also see the Questions for Reflection at the end of Monday’s post.