Reflecting on Jonah the prophet:
I never run, but I can outrun him any day of the week!
My family and friends must have looked twice at the title of this post; I don’t run, ever. In fact, if anyone was chasing me, I would probably surrender right away ( and suffer my fate with dignity) than attempt to run and still end up caught (with no dignity, as I would gasp for air).
Considering these revelations, about my sub-par physical fitness level, out-running Jonah seems like a boastful statement that is as truthful as any April Fool’s Day joke.
But, it is true.
I run faster than Jonah.
Flash-back to the Old Testament: How Jonah ran.
Jonah was an Old Testament prophet who was called by God to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh. The idea of this mission was so frightening to Jonah that he traveled in the opposite direction.
He boarded a ship that almost capsized, was thrown overboard because of losing the lot-casting session, and was subsequently swallowed by a whale in whose belly he spent 3 days and 3 nights praying to the same God he thought he could out-maneuver.
You can read the unabridged story here.
Fast forward to today’s reality:
By the grace of God, I grew up in the church and Jonah was a regular feature in my Sunday School curriculum throughout the years. As a youngster, the story was frightening (capsizing ships and belly of the whale, oh my!) but still entertaining. But, as I grew older, I identified with Jonah the prophet.
I could understand his fears at the task he was assigned; the same fear that paralyzes me when I try to invite my non-church-going friends to attend liturgy, just once. The same fear that makes me tongue-tied when it is time to partake of any outreach missions. Can you imagine a chatterbox getting tongue-tied?
But there is Hope!
There are so many voices that influence us, subconsciously. I can not proclaim to know which voices were influencing Jonah, but I certainly know which ones influence me.
What I find reassuring about Jonah’s story is God’s persistence to redeem this unwilling Prophet; God could have sent any other prophet to Nineveh, but he gave Jonah another chance, just like He gives me millions of chances. So, even if I continue to run faster than Jonah, I am reassured to know that God will continue to capsize my ship and send me whales.
This year, the Coptic Church celebrates Jonah’s fast on February 6,7,8.
Blessed Jonah’s Fast!
Other articles you might enjoy: 55 days to the finish line
Recommended Children’s Book on this topic: Philo and the Faithfulness SuperHoly
Additional Coptic resources on this topic: Treasures of the Fathers: Jonah the prophet
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