Wouldn’t you know it, Shane and I’s first opening day of trout as husband and wife falls on Easter weekend. This creates for us a very jam-packed weekend because traditionally Shane takes part of a “Good Friday Shoot” with his dad and friends, and now my dad and brother join him, then Easter is the big holiday at his dad’s house. Now add in a day of fishing in between those days, and suddenly our weekend is very booked up. I have recipes I want to cook for all the gathering that will be done, but I won’t lie, I cannot wait to get outside and fish, and wouldn’t mind doing that till sundown.
It is funny that as opening day of trout rolled up, my devotionals brought up Jonah. You know the guy, the one that gets swallowed by a fish. Now, most of the time, I am completely distracted by that aspect of the story. It brings to mind pictures from childhood of a dejected looking man sitting in a big, hallow, whale belly contemplating what to do. As I got older, I began to understand more the ramifications of it all, this guy running away from a direct request from God and ending up in the belly of a fish.
This most recent time in studying it though, I was in awe over a different aspect: God’s mercy. I have read “The Daniel Prayer” by Anne Graham Lotz, and in it, she talked about God warning his people to repent, they didn’t, and they ended up as captives, Daniel being one of them. After seventy years, they were set free to return home. They had warnings before the captivity happened, and they didn’t heed it, and captivity was the result of their disobedience.
Now it was the Ninevites turn to repent in the book of Jonah, given the chance to repent, they, by contrast to the Israelites, repented pretty quickly. God withheld judgement just like he said he would. Forget getting hung up on “How did Jonah breath while in the fish?” or “Was it a fish or a whale?” or “Did the people who threw him over board see the fish get him?”, how wonderful is it that God kept his promise and gave the Ninevites his full mercy?
What is so astounding to me is Jonah’s reaction, he said he ran away and didn’t want to proclaim to those people that they should repent because he knew if they did, God was a God of love and compassion and would spare them. Basically he was saying, “I knew you would hold true to what you promised. How dare you be so good!”
In the midst of this crazy world, isn’t it a comforting thought that God can be so good, that he does show mercy, that he isn’t up there holding a lightening bolt over our heads just waiting for the next big mistake? Instead, he is waiting with his arms open promising us chance after chance. This should be a huge relief for us.
But, so many times we live with closed fists, not willing to accept God’s mercy. We don’t even give God the chance to fulfill promises before we shake our fists at him yelling, “You don’t do anything for me!”
How heartbreaking it must be for our father to hear his children say that to him.
I’m about to grab my pole to do some bluegill fishing on the lake, this weekend I am hoping for a big trout, and looking forward to introducing Leah to trout fishing. As I hold the little slippery, gilled creations that I find so much joy in catching, I know I will be thinking about Jonah this weekend. This story made new, not because of some weird fish fact I found, but because of the thought of God’s mercy for us, for me.