Wicked! Uncaring! Send angels like you did for Sodom and Gomorrah! They’ll kill me!
Torpedoed thoughts blocked the faint rhythm of the still small voice.
God would find another. One day, when it was gone and forgotten, he would turn towards the temple...
He stood on the deck, gazing at the peaceful ocean without seeing it. His anger was tidal.
Angels were attacked in Sodom, and yet He would send a man to Nineveh. No!
Men were staring at him. Had his thoughts tumbled through his lips? He didn’t know. One approached.
“Nineveh? “We’re headed a long way from Nineveh. Going to Tarshish. We have no business with Ninevites, and from the looks of you, you don’t either!”
I have no business in Nineveh.
He breathed deeply and smiled at the man. “Just an old man in a maze of memory.”
The thought crashed through his reverie violently – Go to Nineveh! Nineveh!
Steadily, waves, pushing, throwing, drowning reason. His arms flailed, looking for strength in denial, but it evaded him like the sands below. He needed to stand on something, to breathe, to live. He was going under, arms were grabbing him…
He didn’t know he had fallen asleep until he felt the calloused hands of the angry shipmaster.
A storm. One worse than his thoughts. Fear cracked through his body.
It rushed on him then; his disobedience.
“Call on your God!”
He didn’t know how.
It was a temptestuous swirl, what happened next. Lots cast, men pointing, shouting, the water, his dream, his feet struggling to find sand, sinking, a shadow, fear…
His eyes flickered open. It was upon him again, a flood of anger entangling him like the weeds about his head, crowding him like the walls of this whale’s belly.
There were tears, undistinguishable as they streaked down his wet face, though he felt their sting. A prayer forced its way through clenched teeth –
“I will pay that I have vowed.”*
The sand was warm. He wanted to lay there for a long time, until the wind blew spiteful grains to bury him. Everything was so peaceful. The surf trickled quietly to his feet, kissed them, and hustled away. He could almost smile. Except it had returned. The monotonous beating on his heart - Arise, go to Nineveh!
It took every effort to rouse himself.
The sound of revelry rolled through the city’s gates like a vomit. They deserved the full unleashing of his anger. Everything he had suffered for the past days, he would spit it out on them with pleasure.
The words were easy to find. Strangers had an audience in Nineveh’s gates. It was a kind of sick courtesy they allowed – final words.
“Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown!”**
This silence that met his words had to be portending his doom. Was it fear? Was it sorrow? Did they actually believe him?
He left Nineveh confused, but he could not go far.
Surely, God cannot mean to change his mind after all I’ve suffered.
The very idea sapped his strength, and he stood at a distance, waiting, watching.
I knew it! His breath came in hot gasps, and the world swam around him.
The God of Abraham, full of compassion…
He had gloried in the thought, but now this merciful God, was the object of his newborn rage.
How could He shame me this way!
Slow to anger…
Jonah was beyond words.
“Take, I beseech thee, my life from me!”***
His torment waned with the heat of the sun, and he suddenly noticed the small plant that had sprung from barren sand.
Sleep came, and he closed his eyes, hoping he would never open them again.
Something burned. He was not sure if he was alive or dead. The heat was swelling and he felt as if his head would split. He wondered if he was caught in Nineveh’s fire. But there was a blurred memory of sackcloth, of repentance, of a God that forgave…
The shade was gone.
He killed the plant, but spared Nineveh.
A familiar fury lingered.
But somewhere inside him, he felt the pulsation that had never left; still, small –
“Nineveh, Jonah! You pity the plant that came up in a night and perished in a night, and should I not spare Nineveh, that great city…”****
He was fading, but he heard it, and it was true…
*KJV Jonah 2:9
**KJV Jonah 3:4
***KJV Jonah 4:3
****Loosely taken from KJV Jonah 4:10-11
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