Today has been horrid. Okay, maybe not literally. But it certainly hasn’t been fun. If there’s a single Bible character I deeply relate to on today it would be the prophet Jonah – the world’s most reluctant prophet.
The Lord instructed Jonah to go to the city Nineveh and tell them they’d better straighten up their ways and repent or else the Lord would destroy the city. Not exactly the kind of message anyone, prophet or not, wants to give…or hear. And certainly Jonah was smart enough to know that. So Jonah did just about everything he could to avoid giving that word – including getting on a boat heading in the complete opposite direction of where God told him to go.
Well, the Lord can’t be mocked and so He sent a storm so scary, the dudes on the boat figured a god had to be mad at one of them. Jonah fessed up to running away from his God and so to save themselves from the storm, they threw Jonah overboard. God then caused a fish to swallow him and vomit him up on the shore. Finally, God’s like “hey, ready to do what I said yet?” and after all that Jonah finally decided he should probably obey. But even then, he goes all the way to Nineveh and delivers the worlds shortest warning.
Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown – Jonah 3:5
That’s it. And if I had to venture a guess, he probably high-tailed it out of there right after, too. But despite his brevity, the Bible says that Nineveh repented and believed in God and because they repented, God spared them. Wow! Saved by 8 words that Jonah nearly killed himself to avoid saying…what a lesson.
I get it, though. I get his reluctance and his avoidance. I get his fear and his desire to run the opposite direction. I get it because that’s me too. I get it because God often gives me words for others that I categorically DO NOT want to give. Why? Because it’s scary delivering a word of the Lord these days that’s anything other than rainbows and lollipops. Sometimes it’s downright dangerous.
So when God gives me words to speak? 99% of the time I think up some reason not to do it. Oh, I’ll vent to another “safe” person but do I speak to the intended recipient? Nope. Why? Because I’m an utter coward who’d rather jump on a boat going the complete opposite direction. But then…
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away. – Psalms 32:3
So today I had to be obedient even though my own flesh was screaming “NO – run the other way!” Even though the devil was screaming in my ear “you’re only going to make them mad at you, what do you think will happen then?” Even though my own nature as a people-pleaser and avoider-of-all-things-conflict was screaming at me to change the words or delete whole parts, or maybe just drop the whole idea, dink a big glass of wine, and forget what God was clearly telling me to do…
And yet…when I keep silent, my bones waste away. Oh, how true this is. So I wrestled, grappled, and even cried until the pain of silence became too much to bear and I wrote down what I heard God telling me to say. I looked it over about 8 million times to make sure I didn’t add (or subtract) anything. I closed my eyes, prayed, and hit send.
And now I’m freaking the bloody-hell out, writing this post to make myself feel better, and hoping I don’t get any tomatoes thrown at my face as a result. Why? Because my flesh is weak and the thought of upsetting people nearly paralyzes me. And as overly dramatic as that may sound, it’s real. And I imagine Jonah felt something rather similar. So I join his ranks as “most reluctant prophet ever” and pray God will give me more grace, more mercy, and more strength to become more worthy of His calling.