As a life-long fisherman, any fish story that could begin with "Fish catches man," catches my attention. I've been wrestling with the story of Jonah this week. Here are a few "take-aways" from the disobedient prophet and the big fish story.
1. Running away from God is usually my first response. Unfortunately, it's never a good idea.
2. God never gives up on us, even when we're off-track.
3. Self-centered faith is off-centered faith. Jonah's prayer in chapter two is filled with the words "me and I". It appears 3 days in the belly of a fish wasn't a sufficient lesson for Jonah.
4. Doing the right thing for the wrong reason isn't any better than doing the wrong thing. The 3rd chapter reveals an obedient Jonah who does the right thing by preaching repentance to Nineveh, but does it for the wrong reasons - "I can't wait to see God stick it to those evil people of Nineveh!"
5. God is passionate for people. The real lesson of Jonah isn't about obedience or disobedience. It's not about whether or not a fish can swallow a man whole. The lesson of Jonah is about God's passion for people. His heart burns with compassion for all people, even those might live in a modern-day Nineveh.
As I stumble and bumble my way through life, I need to be sure to see people the way God sees people - with compassion, grace, and mercy. Pastor Ed Young recently posted, "We've never locked eyes with someone who doesn't matter to God!"
"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)
What are your "take-aways" from this fish story?