READ : Jonah 1:1-3
But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. (v. 3 NIV)
We sometimes get images in our head—stereotypes—of what people should look like or how they should act. Recently I attended a retreat of pastors and their spouses. One of the participants was a very beautiful, stylish woman. As we introduced ourselves she began by saying, “I know I don’t look like a pastor’s wife.” I would not have thought that but apparently others had.
As we begin reading Jonah’s story today, it is immediately evident that he doesn’t look much like a prophet. Jonah isn’t what we—or the Hebrews—imagine a man of God to be. Usually when God called a prophet, he obeyed. But here is Jonah the prophet disobeying, doing the exact opposite of what God was asking. A prophet who ran away from God? Who “woulda thunk” it?
This is not much of a beginning; Jonah is not much of a prophet. But his story is in the Bible for a reason. What it tells us is that this is often how we begin with God. Fortunately Jonah doesn’t keep on running away from God. He comes back, though, after a long ordeal. Thankfully, we can do the same.
God, if we have started off wrong with you, forgive us, and receive us back. Amen.