Our first stop, fresh off the plane, is the town of Joppa. It's located right on the Mediterranean Sea, called "beautiful" for obvious reasons and holds great Biblical significance. Jonah left this shore in disobedience, heading where he wanted to go, Tarshish, not where the LORD had called him to go, Nineveh. See, Jonah had a judgmental heart that he had allowed to harden toward the people in Nineveh. Why should he go to a place where the people had chosen to be wicked, to exploit the helpless, had given way to idolatry and prostitution? Those people weren't going to listen to him and he didn't want to be around their evil behavior. So Jonah hopped on a boat in Joppa and headed where he wanted to go, Tarshish, in hopes of fleaing from God's call and fulfilling his own desires.
Ever been there? Ever avoided people because of their choices, their rebellion, their yuckiness? Ever disobeyed God's call, believing that you were more righteous, too good to humble yourself to obey? I sure have. As I'm writing this I'm struggling with this very thing. I'm hearing the call, "Go to Nineveh." And oh how I don't want to go to. I want to stay at my kitchen table, with my journal and go and visit those who want to hear about my God. I want to eat dinner with fellow believers and carry the burdens of those who are choosing Jesus and His ways. I want to stay... comfortable and familiar. So did Jonah.
And then there is the Big Ole Fish! How thankful I am for that fish and for a God who pursues and disciplines and restores and gives second chances. A God who loves us so well that He's willing to allow us to be in the "belly of a fish" to build our character and involve us in His Kingdom work.
What's your Nineveh? What might God be asking you to do that has you getting ready to hop a boat in Joppa? Are you headed for the belly of the fish or are you already there?