“One and done.” “You only have one chance to make a good impression.” Our competitive world thrives on such statements. The God we meet through Scripture, however, does not use them. Jonah’s story is a prime example of this.
The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time (v. 1). We’re back to the beginning. God gives Jonah a second chance at his original assignment. Unlike the first time, Jonah accepts it and goes. Same mission, message, and audience. The God whom Jonah can’t get away from never gives up.
Marc Chagall, a 20th-century painter, created six sketches to illustrate this story. The final sketch depicts Jonah 3:3. Jonah is hotfooting it to Nineveh on a sunny day with staff in hand, body in motion, and face free of the anxious lines that dominated earlier sketches. Jonah has claimed his purpose in life and is carrying out his God-given mission.
God is at work at the beginning of today’s verses and at their end. God does not give up on Jonah or the Ninevites. God doesn’t chastise Jonah, but keeps calling him. God doesn’t chastise Nineveh, but uses the reluctant prophet to call them to repent. God doesn’t destroy Nineveh, but transforms the commoners and their king.
The first scene in Jonah’ story could be ours as well. We too try to outguess and outmaneuver God. As God changes lives through Jonah’s changed heart, God promises us the same. We too shall have the chance to know God’s smile.
Source: James W. Limburg, “Marc Chagall’s Jonah Drawings: The Bible as Picture Book.” Word and World 27 (Spring 2007), 181-182. https://wordandworld.luthersem.edu/contents/pdfs accessed February 11, 2020.
When have you said no to God, but continued to hear God’s voice and ultimately changed your mind and actions?
God who calls, open my heart to hear you as you speak my name. Open my heart so that I may walk where I never thought to go. Amen.