Persistent Love

God’s recruiting and hiring practices do not match standard HR procedures. Jonah did not apply for the job of doomsday preacher. Then again, I get the feeling there were no applicants. That’s the rub; some jobs are more popular than others.

The Lord’s word came to Jonah, Amittai’s son: “Get up and go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it, for their evil has come to my attention.” Jonah 1:1-2 (CEB)

Traveling wasn’t the issue. Jonah had no problem getting up and going. Jonah heard the word of the Lord. And understood it. He just didn’t like it. So he went the opposite direction. Bought a ticket on a ship where no one knew him. Headed 2500 miles west, instead of joining a caravan to go 550 miles inland to Nineveh. 

Why did God choose Jonah? Why you? Why me? Why the guy down the street who seems the unlikeliest person for the job? I often wonder about this. Sometimes I am perplexed. Often in awe of the way details come together. Unlikely puzzle pieces interlocking perfectly.

Jonah must have been a compelling orator. He spoke and people listened. But he didn’t want those people to change. Nineveh fasted and mourned and ceased their violence. From the least to the greatest, from the animals to the king coming down from his throne. And God relented. Just as Jonah suspected. 

He prayed to the Lord, “Come on, Lord! Wasn’t this precisely my point when I was back in my own land? This is why I fled to Tarshish earlier! I know that you are a merciful and compassionate God, very patient, full of faithful love, and willing not to destroy. At this point, Lord, you may as well take my life from me, because it would be better for me to die than to live.” Jonah 4:2-3 (CEB)

This Jonah and I are like opposites. Jonah the consultant tells people how it is and then leaves. Watches from a distance. Public speaking is not my thing. I prefer to sit alone in the pre-dawn with my Bible and my laptop. “Are you sure you want me for this job?” I sometimes ask the Lord on Sunday mornings. “Maybe you should get someone more charismatic.” A little cult of personality could go a long way.

The word of the Lord came to me this morning via text at 7:21am. An encouragement for my work and my life. Where I am not a guest lecturer. My specialty is showing up every day. Solid dependability.

Through their resolve, they bear fruit. Luke 8:15 (CEB)

I let that sentence sit with me. Follow me around. Walk the dog. Drive to Rantoul. Go to the gym. God is persistent. With Jonah. With Nineveh. With me. With you. Speaking, acting, showing compassion. Recognizing our gifts and recruiting us for good works. 

In all of these things, God provides. A great fish. A compelling preacher. A shady bush. A hungry worm. The seed to the sower. The resources to care for the wounded stranger at the inn. On this beautiful day, I am in awe of God’s goodness. The pursuit of us in love. 

May we hear the word of the Lord. May we choose not to chart a course in the opposite direction. May we turn toward the persistent love and compassion of our God. 

Bulletin: 10/6
Order of service: 10/6
Sermon: We The House (Hebrews)

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