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Reply to "Scriptures and Images for Teaching, Preaching, and Inspiring During and After the Pandemic"

The Lesson of Ahab and Jonah

MobyDickMD Fly McC 6 Aug 14
Cartoon © Glenn and Gary McCoy. Posted under the "fair use" clause
for the purposes of non-profit teaching and commentary.

Ahab reminds me of Jonah in that both men were willing to go down with the whale rather than change. Jonah the reluctant prophet just wanted things to stay the same and ran the other way when God asked him to go on a difficult mission to a distant town. Ahab was also a man on the wrong mission --seeking revenge against the whale that had taken his leg. The sailors on both boats were glad to be rid of them, and I'm sure the two whales were too.

While I don't believe God "sends" plagues or whales or pandemics to torment, swallow, or punish (pardon my modern perspective), I do believe God sends lessons!

What's your whale?

In many ways, the pandemic is our "whale" right now in Christian education. It's either the whale that's going to take us down like Ahab because of the things we can't let go of, or it's the whale that's going to spit us up in the direction God needs us to go.

Providentially, unlike Moby Dick, the story of Jonah ends without an ending --which seems very appropriate for all of us who are reluctantly worrying and wondering how the church's pandemic story will end. But let's remember why we're here in the first place, ...and it not for the shade.

The Lord said,
“You have been concerned about this plant,
though you did not tend it or make it grow.
It sprang up overnight and died overnight.

And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh,
in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people
who cannot tell their right hand from their left....?”
Jonah 4:9-11 (NIV)

It's easy to be frustrated, even angry about what's happened. But as the last verses of Jonah remind us: it's not about the plant or the shade. Our mission is to the people who still need God’s message whether they are in Nineveh, or at home, or on a soccer field, or waiting expectantly for US to show up.

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