Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” Jonah 3:4 (NIV).
God is patient with us. He didn’t go into Ninevah and immediately slam them. No, He sent a messenger to tell the people, “come back to me or in a little while it’ll be too late.” He has ALWAYS done this. From Sodom and Gomorrah all the way to San Francisco of today, God has always appealed to us in this way.
God sent Jonah a day’s walk into Ninevah, and there he began to witness. I imagine Jonah along the road into Ninevah, talking with people along the way. Maybe he introduced himself, told a little about why he was there. “Come to the middle of Ninevah tomorrow! God has a message for you.” I imagine he must have been nice to people along the way. If not nice, he was at least quiet, unnoticed.
But noticed, loud, or otherwise, Jonah walked along, patiently bearing God’s word, patiently awaiting the right time and place to proclaim it. He was doing it through the strength that the Lord put in his body, put in his soul. And it took courage. Jonah thought the message serious enough to run away from God at first, and look at all that happened because of that. So, he must have walked along thinking to himself, “I wonder if I’ll make it out of here alive.”
Imagine going into inner city Portland today and announcing, “what’s going on here is against the law.” Or going down to Skid Row in LA to yell, “drugs, sex, and crime will kill you!” You or I would probably have the same kinds of thoughts Jonah would likely have thought: “I wonder if I’ll make it out of here alive.”
Here’s the news: you won’t. I wouldn’t. Every one of us is going to die someday. Yet, to live beyond that, along our life-paths, we are here to learn of His salvation, to love God fully, as if we’re walking along knowing that today or tomorrow could be our last day. We are supposed to live our lives in ways that store up treasure in heaven, sharing God’s peace, kindness, and love however we can. And, when He gives us tough words to speak, we are to do so relying on His strength because God is patient. We get to let His voice speak through us in love and that patience.
Like Jonah did.
Like Jonah did because he understood how patient God had been with him. Perhaps he was walking to his death, but Jonah did it anyway. Or, just perhaps, another miracle of mercy might occur.
For further reading: Jeremiah 18:7-10, Jonah 3:5
Patient Lord Jesus, have mercy on us. All praise to You for Your wisdom, patience, and love.
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