A few days ago I heard a talk about Jonah – you know that guy in the Bible who got swallowed by a really massive fish. Always annoying that, being eaten. Imagine how disgusting that would be…
Anyway, this bloke, Jonah, was a man full of opposites. He was a guy who was both faithful and unfaithful, a somewhat familiar-sounding combination. Jonah was a man who heard God clearly – so clearly in fact that Jonah knew exactly what God wanted him to do – yet ignored God. Jonah was a man who was a bit of a chicken and yet brave at the same time. In this story Jonah both turned from God and he followed God. He ran away from God and he went with God. If I’m entirely honest, Jonah sounds quite a lot like me. And, probably, quite a lot like you?
We want to follow God, be faithful, tell our friends about Jesus and to live this life in a way that shows God’s love to the world. Trouble is that we are human and fallible and we get it wrong (quite a lot probably!). Let’s be honest, it’s pretty scary doing the things that God tells us to do…obedience can be is hard.
So the story of Jonah is really encouraging to me, mostly because he sounds like a really normal bloke (other than the whole fish thing). It’s encouraging that , despite Jonah messing up, God was faithful to him. Even when Jonah legged it, God chased him down. We do the same and God is still faithful to us. God chases us down. God calls us back, over and over and over again. Even when we get it wrong and deliberately go the other way, God still wants to be involved and helps steer us back on track (sometimes with big, carnivorous, sea creatures).
The best thing about the story is that Jonah isn’t the hero in it. He’s not the central character. The dramatic ending isn’t pinned on him (in fact, Jonah is found sat under a tree, sulking at the end of this story). The whole thing is focused around someone else. The story is made and shaped by another, far more vital protagonist. The central character in the story of Jonah is Yahweh, the Lord Our God. God the speaker, the seeker and the saviour. God is the centre of this story and even though Jonah messed up, God proves himself faithful.
This is something I need to learn each and every day. That when I let God be the centre of my life, stuff becomes a whole lot clearer. Because of God’s faithfulness to me, somehow that translates into me becoming more faithful. That my inconsistencies become, step-by-step, more consistent. I want to become more like Jesus, and I do that by letting him change me, by putting him front and centre.
Today, put God at the centre of your story. Let him change you and shape you, that through his faithfulness you become more faithful.