Setting Up Stones: Again

For those of you who haven’t seen it before, there’s a tab for weekly devotions on the main menu. Trying something new this week and adding it to the blog so it can be archived. In the context of the Old Testament, setting up stones was a way to make a place of remembrance, to remember where God brought you from and where he was taking you in the future. It’s what my mom’s life was all about, and what I’m learning to be about.

Reading: Jonah 3:1

I’ve always been pretty critical of Jonah. For one thing, none of us want to admit that we identify with him. Who wants to openly say that they hear God tell them to do something and they refuse? And for another thing, most of us are in denial about it when we’re running from God. Like we think we’re fooling everyone, including ourselves, when in reality everyone knows we are running. Today though, with the help of a book I’m reading, I found a verse in Jonah that spoke to me in a profound way. 

Jonah chapter 1 is about God telling Jonah to go to Ninevah, a place he doesn’t  want to go where he might not be well-received, where he is instructed to minister to people he doesn’t like or trust. He’s then thrown overboard once the crew of the ship he was on realizes that if they don’t want to die at sea, they have to get rid of Jonah. Then, Jonah chapter 2 is Jonah in prayer. In Priscilla Shirer’s book “Life Interrupted” she says that in Jonah chapter 1 everyone is praying except for Jonah, and in Jonah chapter 2, Jonah finally realizes he needs to be the one praying. He goes through rebellion, running, and then starts the repentance. 

And then finally, when Jonah is thrown up on the ground, covered in whale guts, trying to process what just happened, after being disobedient to God and going in the opposite direction of what he was told, he didn’t receive a message of condemnation or even punishment. Verse 1 of chapter 3 days, “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.” 

After everything he had done wrong, and some of the impure intentions he still held onto in his heart about the people of Nineveh, God still wanted to use him. He still spoke to him. He didn’t skip over Jonah and look for someone more cooperative or qualified to do the work. He repeated his original word to Jonah. He gave him a second chance. 

I have been in a dark place. I have been running. I have been struggling with what God might require of me. But even knowing all of that, when I started talking to God again this week, he welcomed me. And this verse reminded me that God is still capable and willing and even enthusiastic about speaking his word to me a second time, giving me another chance to get it right. And he wants that for you too. Never be afraid to go back to him. He’s merciful, and he wants to speak his word to you a second time. —Amanda 

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