What’s Your Nineveh?
Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God's mercies. But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the LORD alone. Jonah 2:8-9, NLT
Have you ever run away from something that God wanted you to do? If so, then you’ve got a lot in common with Jonah. You know the story . . .
Guy in a tunic hears from God.
Guy doesn’t like what God wants him to do.
Guy runs in the other direction. Literally.
Guy gets on a boat.
Guy get tossed overboard during a storm.
Guy gets swallowed by a big fish.
Guy goes and does what God tells him (a second time) to do.
Guy gets angry when God is compassionate to others (who guy doesn’t think are deserving).
Guy gets rebuked, and God has the last word.
Jonah was running from Nineveh—a city with an idolatrous people so wicked that they would cut off the feet and hands of their captives just to intimidate others. Yikes!
So it’s probably safe to say that all of us might have felt like Jonah did when thinking about ministering to the Ninehvites: scared for himself and disbelieving that these people could ever be saved. Why even try, right?
But God wanted Jonah to preach and to reach out to others, because God has reached out to all of us. We are all undeserving of his love and his unmerited favor, but mercifully God forgives. Jonah didn’t want to see this, and so he ran.
Perhaps you are running as well. You’re trying to get as far away from your Nineveh—the thing that truly scares you, the thing that you know God is leading you toward, the thing you don’t really want to do.
I have run away from so many things in my life. But one of these days, maybe I will have grown enough in my faith that I will immediately say “Yes, Lord” when he gives me instruction.
Until that point in my maturity, there’s a current Nineveh that has been occupying a lot of my thoughts lately. It’s my fall group Bible study. Now, that’s not so scary in and of itself. But you know what is? What we’ll be studying come September: the book of Revelation.
I confess that I’ve thought about dropping out a few times already, as I’ve had too much time to anticipate and be afraid. To me, this is the most intimidating book of Scripture. I have a fear that I’ll never understand the symbolism, that I’ll look dumb trying to answer the questions in front of my group and that I’ll spend the entire eight months of study in a fog of frustration.
But I think I’m missing the most important point. What seems impossible to me is exactly what God wants me to do. So that I will learn. And grow. And draw closer to him as I work on understanding his Word.
Jonah is one of the shortest books of the Bible, so I invite you to read through it today when you have a half hour to spare. See if you don’t see yourself in Jonah’s thoughts and fears, in his actions and in his initial response to God’s call in his life.
And then ask yourself, “What is my Nineveh?” and pray. Ask the Lord to help you work through your fear, your anger, your rebellion.
Instead of running this time, and from our own Ninevehs, may God help us all to run toward what he has purposed for our good.
Intersecting Faith & Life:
Stop running in the wrong direction! Repent and start moving obediently toward whatever God is calling you to do today. Despite our proclivity toward unfaithfulness, he is always faithful.
2 Samuel 22:1-4, NIV
2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV
Philippians 1:6, NIV