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A Less Sensational Story of Jonah

We have an old tree in our new neighborhood that stands front and center for all to see. With the exception of a small amount of shade, this scraggly-limbed, woody plant looks like a Charlie Brown version of the oak variety.

But, for whatever reason, it tugs at the heartstrings of both hubby and I.  So, we spent entirely too much to give her a chance at a longer life span by having her main limbs pulled together with a wire line. By doing so, the hope is she will not only survive, but thrive.

I’m glad we have a God who gives us multiple chances at life.  

Look at Jonah.  The man fled from God, and yet God didn’t extinguish his lifespan in doing so.  Even after a storm, and a whale of a tale, God gave him another chance to take his wiry limbs to the horribly wicked citizens of Nineveh with a message of truth and repentance and hope.  And, ultimately another chance at life.

Begrudgingly Jonah was obedient, yet, not without a hint of judgement.

I get it. They were hardly the cream of the crop.  Rotten individuals didn’t deserve another chance.  Wipe them off the face of the earth already–the world would be a better place.

Interestingly, afterward, Jonah goes off and pouts.  God provides a vine so he is not burnt.  Jonah feels relief.  Then in the life illustration God withers the vine from existence.  Jonah at this point loses all his faculties over a dead vine. It went like this:

Jonah:  “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”

God:  “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”

Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city. And the Lord God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah’s head, shading him from the sun. This eased his discomfort, and Jonah was very grateful for the plant.  But God also arranged for a worm! The next morning at dawn the worm ate through the stem of the plant so that it withered away. And as the sun grew hot, God arranged for a scorching east wind to blow on Jonah. The sun beat down on his head until he grew faint and wished to die.

Jonah:  “Death is certainly better than living like this!” he exclaimed.

God:  “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?”

“Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!”

God:   “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”

He cared more for the vine.  Makes me wonder if his ancient reaction is similar to ours today.

We are off balance in this world.

I get it, a lion doesn’t deserve to die a needless death.  But, neither do the countless millions of unique fingerprints that do not get a chance at life outside the womb.

They deserve a first chance to live and breathe.

I am grateful to follow a God who desires NONE would perish.  No, not one.

God, resuscitate our heartstrings for life.  

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