Scripture Reading: Jonah 1:1-17, Psalm 104:24-26, Matthew 12:38-42
Pulling the coarse blanket tighter and rolling over, Jonah sighed as he sank deeper into sleep. The warm dark cabin around him creaked and groaned as the waves outside surged with increasing intensity. The sailors above deck scanned the horizon and glanced anxiously up at a grey sky heavy with the strength of the Lord Almighty. God was coming for Jonah.
The prophet was running away, but God pursued him like only the Creator and Lord of the sea could: with a furious ocean tempest. Jonah tried to flee from the very presence of the Lord, thinking he could hide if he found an old boat heading in a new direction.
But God is fierce and awesome in His pursuit. Jonah never had a chance of hiding. Even the inanimate dice the sailors used to cast lots pointed him out as the one running from God (Jonah 1:7). God had called to Jonah, “Get up! Go” (Jonah 1:2), and now all creation seemed to be shouting, “Return!” God uses wind and waves, even dice—everything in creation stands by to obey its Creator. In the face of the deafening storm and sure signs, the sailors feared for their lives, and looked to Jonah with eyes of blame and hands ready to heave-ho.
God’s pursuit is relentless exactly because He is so loving. He could’ve crushed Jonah under a tremendous sea surge and found another man. Jonah had his chance, and he clearly took the coward’s way out, right? God gave him a clear instruction (something we all long for), and Jonah ran like a frightened child in the other direction. Why didn’t God give up on Jonah?
God wanted Jonah. Goodness, isn’t that amazing? I sometimes feel like I’m a substandard version of the person who should actually be living my life. And the truth is, I do fall short. I do worry that there is someone who would be a better mother to my kids, wife to my husband, friend to my friends. But despite my imperfections and failings, I am the best mother for my children, wife for my husband, and friend for my friends. God gives specific callings to specific people (Ephesians 2:10). That means God wants me for my particular calling and life.
We can’t escape God and His storm gale of purpose. He pursues us with love that is filled with a beautiful intensity unlike anything else we have ever known.
“Where can I go to escape your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.”
- Psalm 139:7-8