Pathfinding 1: The Jonah Journey

Scarecrow-ing around for fun. :)
I volunteer for an organization that teaches and brings up children, young men and women with life skills and a rich spiritual life. It is similar to boy/girl scouting, yet more as it gives its members a sense of direction and meaning in life.

I, myself, grew up in this Pathfinder's Club. Now, I am given the privilege to be an instructor.

Pathfinder's Club uses the Word of God, the Bible, as its main source of knowledge and wisdom; and any other textbooks used has to be weighed against it.

For the past two Saturday afternoons, I taught my class about Jonah. I told it as simply as I could, as the children are not familiar with the Bible and the stories in it. Granted that the kids got it simple, my mind, though, was turning the story around, and up and down. That being the case, though the story of Jonah is out of the ordinary (not everyone gets swallowed by a fish), I found a path--- familiar and well-trodden.

Here are the landmarks. Read Jonah 1.

The call. "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it, for their wickedness is come up before me" (Jonah 1:2). As Jonah was called by God to warn the people of the city of Nineveh about the destruction of their city if they go on with their wicked ways, we are called by our God to do the same to the citizens of the world.

The choice. "But Jonah rose up to flee... from the presence of the Lord..." (Jonah 1:3). Jonah didn't want to go to Nineveh, so he acted on it. He chose to go as far from where God called him to go. He ran away. In life, we have only two choices. We either run to God or run away from Him.

I, too, ran during the time I was trying to find my niche and was indecisive and rebellious. I didn't know how it came to be, but I am grateful that, notwithstanding, I found myself right where God wanted me.

Going down. "(Jonah) went down to Joppa... found a ship... and went down into it... to go... from the presence of the Lord" (verse 3). And as a storm was raging and everyone aboard on the ship was afraid, the Bible said, Jonah "was gone down", presumably below deck, where he slept. Jonah ran, got on a ship and was later found by the shipmaster down in the bottom of the ship sleeping. Later, when he was thrown into the stormy water, he went even farther down. Running away from God keeps us down. The only way to go back up is through Jesus.

The storm. "...there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken" (verse 4). Sometimes the only way to shake us up into our senses is through a storm. It may not be an actual, physical storm with winds howling and the water tossing; but a storm that has to do with our finances, our health, our family, our relationships, our name, our faith in God. These storms create a mess that leaves many of us (and the people around us broken) or "like broken", and only those who realize they are broken can find healing. Sometimes the storms come so people around us, who don't know God, may come to know Him. Oftentimes, many of those storms are because of our doing. In life's wayfaring, storms are inevitable.

The fish.  "Now the Lord prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights" (verse 17). How is it that when we think there is no more hope, no one to save, that God reaches out even to the farthest end that humanity can go (even to the bedrock of the sea) and save? Despite bringing the storm on himself and others, God saved Jonah. He sent a fish to do that. The 'sign of Jonah', him being in the fish for three days and three nights, as Jesus had said, pointed out to His death and His victory over death. Jesus died, was in the tomb and rose again, the only way humanity could be saved.

Everyday God is reaching out and saving the lost. "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:25). The uttermost. There is nothing that God cannot do. And that includes saving you and me however far below we have fallen.

My pathfinding doesn't end here. Neither did Jonah's journey end in the belly of the fish. But I'm going to end this post for now, and let the wonderful act of God of saving runaway Jonah, and you and me, settle into the depths of our hearts.

Our paths may look different to each other, but truth is, they are a lot more similar than what we originally think. We have a call to follow God. We have a choice to obey Him. We can either run to Him or run away from Him. But remember that running away from God never gets us up, but only down. The storms we go through may break us, but broken, we may know Him who can heal us. Finally, in all our struggles within and without, God has prepared a Savior. He is reaching way down, down wherever He finds us and into His glory.

Yes, we have a personal pathway to trod on. But how does it become part of the Way? Just as every Pathfinder has to test all knowledge and circumstances against God's Word, so should we in finding our own personal pathway to God's Kingdom. We have to respond to whatever comes our way in a manner that mirrors God's Way.

Let the pathfinding continue...

You may also like to read...

Getting a Sense of Direction
Living God's Dream
Walking with the Ultimate Parent


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