‘ Time in the Word’ By Clayton Adams
Every person has events and experiences that lead to a transformation. Transformation can come in the twinkling of an eye or over an extended period and through a series of events.
Jonah was a preacher who had an interesting and very difficult transformation. Jonah’s story is found in the Old Testament book named after him. One day God called Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and upon this calling Jonah’s very difficult transformation began.
God said to Jonah, “Get up and go to Nineveh the great city and speak against it, for their wickedness has come to me. But Jonah rose up and fled from the presence of the Lord. So, he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and wend down into it to go with them, from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:1-3). Try as he did, Jonah tried to get as far away from God as he could.
What a futile attempt – to escape from the presence of God who is always everywhere and knowing everything!
Like Jonah, I have tried to run from God and perhaps you have too.
God always finds us to continue His relationship with us.
Jonah soon learned he couldn’t escape from the presence of God in his life and so his transformation continued.
Jonah tells his shipmates, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea.
Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you.” The story continues, “So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging” (Jonah 2:12, 15).
What has God used to get your attention?
Difficulties, disappointments, death? Maybe God has used blessings to focus your attention to Him. Jonah, like so many of us discover, that we may leave God but God never leaves us (Hebrews 13:5).
Jonah ran from the calling of God to save the people of Nineveh.
The people of Nineveh were a wicked and fierce nation of people.
They were ruthless in war, capturing and killing everyone and some historians believe that Ninevites were the first to use crucifixion as a way of punishing or torturing their enemies. Jonah had no desire to see these people saved.
Jonah was getting as far from God and Nineveh as he could and Tarshish, Spain was as far away as he could get.
What have you done to get away from God?
Married someone, didn’t pursue that education, moved to another location, stopped attending or being active in a church?
Working at a job you know you shouldn’t?
Blaming others for your life, maybe even God?
There are many ways to get away from God the best way is simply being busy with living – work, family and the daily demands of life.
But God knows who you are, where you are and He has not left you. God is pursuing you like He pursued Jonah.
God had a purpose, plan and calling for Jonah but Jonah did not want anything to do with God’s plan.
Likewise, God has a purpose, plan and a calling for you. Whatever God calls you to do He will equip you to accomplish. There is no higher accomplishment than fulfilling the will of God. Everyone is different and God’s will is different for everyone. We read, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before so that we would accomplish them” (Ephesians 2:10).
After three long days inside the belly of a large fish, Jonah eventually makes it to Nineveh and expresses his most inner thoughts, his regret and his renewed commitment (Jonah 2:9-10).
As Jonah walked through the streets of Nineveh and preached the people listened and turned to God – this surprised Jonah, we read, “Jonah began to go through the city one days’ walk and spoke out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes” (sackcloth and ashes were a sign of great humility, sorrow and remorse, Jonah 3:4-6).
Whenever someone turns away from a lifestyle, practice, sin, selfish desire (call it what you will) and comes to God, there is always a sign of the change – there is an evidence of a changed life. The evidence for the Ninevites were their deeds, we read, “When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring up them.
And He did not do it” (Jonah 3:10). God is not willing that any person or groups of people should perish without a relationship with Him (2 Peter 3:9).
Jonah running from God’s calling and presence landed him three days in the belly of a big fish and terrible loneliness and regret.
Jonah’s actions were transformed but his attitude needed transformation. Jonah falls in line with God, preaches to the Ninevites and sees with his own eyes one of the largest group of people to come to the Lord for salvation – but Jonah was still angry.
We read, “But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, “Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore, in order to forestall this, I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. …Lord please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life” (Jonah 4:2-3).
Jonah’s transformation was ongoing – after seeing all these people saved, Jonah was still angry with God that they were spared the calamity God had planned for them!
Jonah had a real anger issue and God had the last word for Jonah and for us about His unending love, patience and grace for all, we read, “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?” (Jonah 4:11).
God will have the last word in your life and transformation. Are you like Jonah in that your actions are godly but your attitude and countenance have not been transformed? God never leaves us partly changed, He transforms the whole person and continues to make us more like His Son Jesus. How is your transformation progressing?
Clayton Adams has a message of faith he would like to share with the community. He would also like to hear from you. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.