I recently attended the Sight and Sound production, Jonah, which is a musical adaptation of the Biblical story of Jonah.
The book of Jonah demonstrates the consequences we suffer when we are disobedient and fail to follow God’s instructions. The book also demonstrates God’s patience and love for us despite our disobedience.
In the story of Jonah, God gave Jonah instructions to deliver a message to the city of Nineveh, that they must repent or Nineveh would be destroyed in forty days. Jonah had no love for Nineveh and feared its leaders, so he decided to run away rather than go to Nineveh to deliver the message. Jonah escaped by setting sail on a boat headed to Tarshish. After being tossed overboard by his ship mates, God sent a gigantic fish to swallow Jonah to prevent him from drowning. Jonah remained in the belly of the fish for three days, allowing him ample time to ponder over his plight. After being released by the fish, Jonah knew that God was giving him a second chance to obey his instructions.
In the musical production, there is a song that asks, ‘What is your Nineveh?’ It suggests that each of us, like Jonah, may have a challenge or something that we dread doing. I began thinking of possible Ninevehs one may be facing. It could be a challenge that we feel we’re not equipped for, an illness or treatments that we’re facing, pending changes in employment or even the demise of a relationship. Any one of these things can cause great stress and as a result, lead us along a path that God did not intend for us to follow.
The story of Jonah shares some beautiful lessons that provide hope when you encounter your Nineveh:
- We serve a God of second chances. While you may initially run from God’s instructions, God always gives us a second, third, and sometime numerous chances to get it right. God didn’t give up on Jonah and He won’t give up on you.
- He will give you instructions, if you ask. God will always give you direction when asked. God gave Jonah instructions to visit Nineveh. Jonah didn’t want to follow them. Had Jonah been obedient, he would not have spent three days in the belly of a fish!
- It’s not as bad as you think it will be. You need to remember that God has gone before you and prepared the way. He knows what’s ahead of you. Jonah feared that he would be captured and killed if he went to Nineveh. However, when Jonah finally delivered the message to Nineveh, the people responded in a positive manner and were very grateful to Jonah for delivering the message and saving their city.
- Despite our disobedience, God never stops loving us. Of all the cruel and vicious things Nineveh had done to people throughout its history, God loved them enough to give them a final warning before destroying their land. In other words, it takes a whole lot for God to give up on you.
So, what is your Nineveh? Rather than run, face your fear and know that God loves you and is there to carry you through it.
I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. ~ Proverbs 4:11-13