Have you heard the story of Jonah? He was a man called by God to do something he had no desire to do. So he ran. He hopped on a boat and went the opposite direction. But God didn’t let him get away. A great storm frightened the sailors so they cast lots to see which one of them had angered which god. When Jonah’s disobedience was discovered he was thrown overboard. The rain stopped. A big fish swallowed Jonah and he sat in its belly for three days. He wasn’t forgotten. He cried out to God and the fish threw him up.
Jonah got the message and this time he did not run. God had told him to go to Ninevah, people Jonah despised, and to tell them to repent and turn from their evil ways or they would be destroyed. Really Jonah didn’t see the point, but he was done being fish food and obeyed.
As Jonah sat on a hillside, front row seat to the destruction he eagerly desired, God caused a vine to grow up and give him shade. To Jonah’s dismay Nineveh had listened to his message and repented. So instead of destroying the city, God sent a worm and destroyed Jonah’s vine. And Jonah complained.
Jonah was willing to accept God’s grace in his own life. God’s grace was good enough for him. He accepted it in the belly of the fish and in the shade of the vine, but he did not have the stomach to watch the salvation of men, women and children.
Jonah knew who God was. He knew what God expected of him and still he ran. He deliberately disobeyed. I don’t think for a moment he expected to live when the sailors tossed him overboard but God needed Jonah to understand something. And I believe He wants us to understand it as well.
God saved Jonah who deliberately disobeyed Him and sent him to people who did not know God’s expectations. Listen to God’s answer when Jonah responds in anger wishing to die.
Jonah 4:10-11, ESV
And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”
Have we forgotten that this world is filled with God’s creation? Have we forgotten that you and I are in need of God’s grace daily? We fill our prayers with trivia. Instead of asking that He change the hearts of our enemies we ask for shade on sunny days.
What about love? What about the message of grace? What happened to the Good News?
God’s grace is bigger than me or any sin I have ever committed. It’s bigger than anything you have or ever will do.
The Bible says that “ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But the good news is that God loves us. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Just as he extended His grace to Jonah’s cold heart and Nineveh’s cruelty He extends it now to us.
Prayer: God thank you for your grace. Teach me to show it to others as you’ve shown it to me. Amen.
Thought for today: Is there someone in my life I have not been particularly gracious to? How can I show them grace today?