This blog post is an excerpt from a chapter of our newest resource, an Everyday Discipleship Study on the book of Jonah. Available now, you can download the first chapter for free!
In our fifth year of marriage, God interrupted our lives. It was hard. Through friends and our missional community, we were confronted with the reality of our marriage: It was broken. Actually, our marriage was on its deathbed. The circumstances of leading a church, leading communities, living on mission, finances, and extended family were a perfect storm that left us shaking. It felt terrible. But in the moment of chaos, we got incredible clarity: we had fled the presence and voice of God, and we were not okay.
Honestly, it felt like a failure. Here we were, “gifted” and “successful” leaders of the church, breaking down in front of our community and neighbors. Restoration looked like a year of weekly counseling, where we returned home clearly crying. As neighbors asked us what was going on, we told them how needy we were and how we had lost sight of God’s presence and wounded each other. Jesus became more clear to those around us, even amid our agony. It was a storm sent by God.
All of it was God’s grace. It saved our marriage. It restored our souls.
God still uses the storm strategy to grab our attention. The massive waves, booming thunder, dark clouds, and torrential rain.
For example, the people of Israel are following false gods, and God uses Elijah to demonstrate first His ability to consume, then His ability to cause rain to fall. The people return to God. In the New Testament, Jesus gets on a boat with His disciples, and a Jonah-like storm overcomes the boat. The disciples, like the sailors, wake up Jesus in a panic: You don’t care about us. Jesus calms the storm, and the disciples realize His identity as Lord of heaven and earth. Deeper still, they learn they can trust Him with their lives.
Jesus interrupts our lives to save our lives. By God’s grace, He will use anything in His power to make us consider who He is.
That’s what happens in Jonah 1:4-17.
Jonah flees the presence of God, but God doesn’t flee him. He moves closer. Jonah thought God didn’t care about him. Wouldn’t pursue him. God’s grace interrupts rebellion and advances His mission.
Amidst the storm, God interrupts Jonah’s rebellion. Through the questions of ‘pagans,’ God brings Jonah to a confession of who God is and who he is. Through God’s pursuit of Jonah, even in rebellion, those who were far from God, the sailors, are brought near to God. This is how God’s mission works!
What would look different if your city knew and experienced the power and grace of the gospel?
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