We arrived yesterday in Israel for IFL’s 2010 tour of the Holy Land.
We spent most of the day trying to recover from the dizzying fog of jet-lag. Home is eight time zones away! And yet, something about coming to Israel provides a rush of adrenaline that makes sleep secondary to all we get to see.
Something that helped clear our jetlag was wading in the cool Mediterranean Sea along the coast of Tel Aviv. Cathy and I took a walk on the beach and meandered down to ancient Joppa.
Joppa was Israel’s primary Old Testament port, and it always makes me think of the reluctant prophet, Jonah. Remember him?
Jonah had no desire for God to forgive the wicked Assyria. So when the Lord told him to preach in Assyria, he took a ship from Joppa bound for Spain—the opposite direction of God’s will! In the furious storm that followed, Jonah found himself in the belly of a great fish, finally confessing, “Salvation is from the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). (Of course, Jonah meant his salvation, not the Assyrians’.)
The fish hurled Jonah onto dry land. Again the Lord told Jonah to go to Nineveh in Assyria, and this time Jonah obeyed. He preached, Nineveh repented, and what Jonah feared, happened . . . God forgave them.
As Jonah later pouted in the sun, watching what would happen to the city, the Lord provided a plant for shade. And for the first time in the book, Jonah smiled. But then God sent a worm to eat the plant! When the heat hit Jonah’s head, he became faint and begged God to take his life.
How often do we feel life isn’t fair or, worse, that God has let us down because He runs the universe differently than we would? We become more concerned with trifles such as shade trees than with people made in God’s image. Our grumblings only betray that we’re running in a direction opposite from God.
In His grace, God appointed the fish, the plant, the worm and the wind . . . all to get Jonah to change. I can’t help but wonder: what creature comforts will God remove from our lives to reveal an inordinate preoccupation with self?
Tomorrow, we head north and follow the path Peter took . . . from Joppa to Caesarea.
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