Send someone else - a reflection on Jonah 3
A Lent Reflection for Thursday, February 23rd
By Tori Mack
Lectionary reading: Psalm 51, Jonah 3:1-10, Romans 1:1-7
Selected passage: Jonah 3:1-10
Jonah 3:1-10 New Revised Standard Version
3 The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, 2 “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.
6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. 8 Humans and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. 9 Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.”
10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them, and he did not do it.
When it comes to serving God, we don’t always get it right, at least not the first time. It’s not always because we don’t understand what is being asked, it may be that we don’t want to accept it.
We cry out, “Use me, Lord!” but go the opposite direction when the Lord calls. I distinctly remember telling God I would go wherever He called me. But when it was time to go, rather than obedience, I offered excuses.
Lord, can we wait until the kids get older?
Lord, our family needs us.
Lord, how can we leave our church?
Lord, do you really mean, now?
Jonah loved God but didn’t want to go. He tried to run! And yet despite Jonah’s disobedience, God continued to trust Jonah for this assignment. Although Jonah didn’t fully understand why God wanted to offer repentance to a city like Nineveh, he could accept the command to go.
Grace is a beautiful gift from God. Through repentance we can tell God what is really bothering us and trust He will correct us. Repentance invites reconciliation, and draws us back to Him.
After Jonah and God talked about Jonah’s heart, the word of the Lord came the second time, and this time, he responded differently. Jonah went.
As a result, the people of Nineveh were offered the same gift of grace and chose repentance. They responded by fasting and turning from their evil ways. When God saw this, He relented from bringing calamity.
We have the same invitation of repentance. May your, “Use me, Lord”, be authentic. When He calls, rather than excuses, be honest. Don’t allow excuses to disrupt your obedience to God. Learn from me and Jonah, when the word of the Lord comes to you a second time, go.
The word of the Lord is purposeful.Ponder this in silence and notice the presence of the Holy Spirit.
What has God asked of you? The first time? The second time?
Can you respond with obedience?
God, You desire for every knee to bow and every tongue to confess that Jesus is Lord. And we also desire the same, but sometimes we wish you would send someone else. We repent. May we partner with You, rather than hinder Your work and message for all. Amen.
About the Author
Tori Mack is currently a student at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago. She co-pastored a church plant in her hometown, Louisville, KY. She is on a mission to be ordained and teach northerners the proper way to enjoy sweet tea. She loves her loud and crazy family deeply. If you’re looking for her, you’ll find her getting lost on a train in search of her next museum adventure.