There are two questions we need to ask ourselves: First of all, is there a God? And secondly, if there is a God, what is He like?
I’m assuming we all believe there is a God. I’m also assuming we all believe He’s a personal God, who cares about us, and you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t want to know more about Him.
The writer, Ernest Hemingway, believed in God, but concentrated on trying to decipher the nature of God. In his book, A Farewell to Arms, the protagonist, Fred Henry, spent the day fishing, and that evening was sitting around a campfire by himself drinking whisky. He threw another logon the fire, which was apparently full of ants. Thousands and thousands of them came rushing out, and he watched them as they scurried from one end of the burning log to the other. Henry thought to himself, I could take the log off the fire and throw it out of harm’s way, but I don’t want to. Many people share Hemingway’s image of God: God exists, but He is indifferent to His creation.
Jonah is a book about anything but the indifference of God to His creation. He loves His creation and goes to great lengths to provide for His creation. If you read the Book of Jonah, you will come away with an image of God you’ll never forget! God does not stand by and think, I could do something, but I don’t think I will. God is actively involved in the life of his creation.
1. What is your personal image of God? Is He a God of mercy and compassion or a God of indifference? Is your personal image of God something you acquired as a child? Or has something happened to you in your life to form your opinion of Him?
2. Read Colossians 1:15. What image of God is described there? Does this description match your own personal beliefs?
3. Have you ever been in a situation like Hemingway’s character, where you had the power to change as situation, but you chose not to? If so, do you regret your choice? Why?
God’s call to Jonah could be likened to any one of us being called to do something we do not want to do. Let’s say it’s September 25th, following that fateful day on September 11. God calls you to board a plane to Afghanistan, and tells you to go find Osama bin Laden. What if God said, “I want you to go tell him that I am the true God, the Hebrew God of Abraham, Moses, Isaac, and all of My creation, and if he doesn’t stop doing what he’s doing to his own people and to the other people on the Earth, I am going to wipe out all of the Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Osama himself. You go tell him.” How would you react? Like Jonah, would you refuse?
Sometimes, I run from the call of God in subtle ways. I read the paper in the morning and leave no time to commune with God, no time for devotions. Or the Lord tells me, “I want you to take your neighbor to church.” But I think to myself, I don’t like him that well. Can’t someone else take him to church? That’s missing the call of God.
Can you run from God? Yes. Do you get away with it? Never. There are always consequences.
Read Psalm 139:7-10.
4. Have you ever tried to run away from God? Why?
5. There are stories throughout the Bible about people who tried to reject Jesus. What does Jesus say in Matthew 7:26 about rejecting His Word?
6. In what ways could you rearrange your daily schedule so you can have more time for devotions and prayer?
Adapted with permission from Overcoming Mistakes, ©2004 Marilyn Meberg. All rights reserved. To purchase a copy for yourself, click here.