Monday, May 9, 2016

4 Things We Should Learn from Jonah

A segment from Sunday's Sermon...   Posted due to popular demand.

Jonah ran from God's call, spent 3 days and nights in the belly of a big fish, went to preach to his enemies at Ninevah and the entire city repents. His odds are better than the most convicting preacher! Jonah should be ecstatic, but Jonah is mad. Mad as a June bug tied to a piece of string. He'll pull his own leg off flying away before he'll join this party.

This story is meant to be humorous, poking fun at a certain perspective of the world-- that there are good people and bad people and God loves the good and hates the bad. That there are categories so simplified, like an old Western movie, where the good guys wear white shirts and the bad guys wear black shirts and masks. But life and the world and people are more complex than that. And it is only God who knows just how complex.

What can we learn from Jonah today?

4 Things We Should Learn from Jonah 
   Themes borrowed from the words of A.A. Milne, author of Winnie the Pooh.

1.  You are braver than you believe.  Its never about the task itself. When we focus on how big the thing in front of us is, we forget to see how God has equipped us to tackle it.  Like the little girl who climbed a ladder one rung at a time, never looking down to see how high-- instead she shook from the top when she looked out at the view and down at all she accomplished.  It easy to stand at the bottom and shake in our boots.  Jonah could not stomach the thought of facing his enemies and chose instead to flea across the Mediterranean Sea.  Facing in the right direction, no matter the climb, it can all be boiled down to one foot in front of the other. 

2.  You are stronger than you look.  If, like Jonah, you can run in the opposite direction with every ounce of your being from what you should do or who you should be, you are strong enough to run full force in the direction of God's future for your life.  Stop wasting so much energy saying "no" to that tug on your heart.  Stop wasting so much time and breath telling God who you are and who you are not. If anyone knows what you are capable of, its God, the one who fearfully and wonderfully knit you together in your Mother's womb.

3. You are smarter than you think.   Too often we spend our time comparing ourselves to everyone around us-- they are so much smarter, they know more than we do, they are better liked by others, they always get a break.  You are who you are for a reason, and your life has purpose.  God used Jonah, even though the smart thing would have been to find someone more obedient (the first time).  God spared the Ninevites, even though the smart thing in Jonah's estimation was to destroy them.  God promises to equip us and give us the tools we need for our life's journey, smart is not our issue, as the phrase goes, "work smarter not harder."  It is time to look down and see what God has placed in your hands and on your heart.

4. You are loved more than you know. God's love and grace is always bigger than we imagine.  And God doesn't always follow the rules.  This was Jonah's big beef with God, God should have hated the Ninevites for all that reasons he hated them, and Jonah spent a lot of effort hating. There is no group of people, and no place, not even Nineveh, can properly be called God-forsaken. Thanks be to God that we are loved more than we can earn or deserve.

St. Paul UMC- Fountain City

St. Paul UMC- Fountain City