Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: OVERSEAS VACATION (08/13/15)
- TITLE: From the Diary of a Prophet with a Death-Wish...
By Noel Mitaxa
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If praying is talking to God, am I schizophrenic if he talks to me―“inviting” me to declare judgement on Nineveh? Me – against one hundred and twenty thousand Ninevites? Naaah! Nineveh, Schmineveh.
No way Yahweh! If that’s your vocation, I’ll take a va-cation. Overseas. West to Tarshish―as far from Nineveh as I can get.
Joppa’s crowded seafront gives pier-pressure a whole new meaning; for high-tide is here and it’s time to set sail. With my one-way ticket to Tarshish in hand, I slip out of everyone’s way; below deck, where it’s quieter.
The boat’s gentle, rocking motion is melting all my stress away, and I suddenly discover that I’m fast asleep.
Bliss at last.
Rubbing sleep’s blur from my eyes, I feel everything heaving. With waves crashing against the hull and the wind shrieking so loudly, I can hardly hear the terrified captain as he shakes me awake. “Our gods are ignoring our prayers,” he screams into my face. “Is your god angry too?”
Ullo, Ullo, ‘Ello-him'―so vindictive that he’d destroy an innocent crew on my account? Surely I’m a dead man!
Up on deck, every crewman’s expression is sheer panic. “My God is angry with me, not you! He made the sea and everything else, and your only hope is to throw me overboard. If anyone’s going to die, it will be me!” Reassurance that sounds more convincing than it feels, for I find myself thinking: And I’ll be a no-show for Nineveh...
As soon as I hit the water, everything stills. The crew bursts into song, but I can’t join in. Massive jaws catch me and sweep me into a warm, dark cave.
A warm, wet, dark cave
A warm, wet, dark cave
Day-ja vu. But now I realise that I can only go up from here. God, you have my attention. What now?
I’m coughed up onto a beach. God’s voice returns, and I can’t get to Nineveh quick enough.
In Nineveh’s town square I’m surrounded by a seething, filthy morass of fury and sneering depravity. What is one voice―my voice―against all that? But the fish-trip? Again? No thanks...
I raise my voice, “You’ve got forty days to repent of your sin; or God will destroy you!” The amazing volume of God’s warning echoes off the walls. But they’ve never heard of my God―is my PR campaign lifting the “Mad” from Madison Avenue???
Yet everything goes quiet. People stop and turn my way―wide eyed, gaping. Transfixed with fear, just like the sailors in that storm.
Breaking news. The king has stripped off, slipped into sack cloth and ordered a city-wide fast. All citizens must repent! “Maybe God will relent,” he declares.
This is serious stuff, because his word is law. And peace breaks out!
Nothing for me to do now but leave town and climb the biggest hill so I can watch and wait for fire to fall from heaven. Or maybe an earthquake to open up; or a flood; or a plague to kill everybody slowly. After all, God has thirty days to choose the best kind of disaster for them…
Wow, that sun is hot! I could cook out here if I have to wait twenty nine more days…
Amazing! A huge vine has sprung up overnight, with enough thick leaves to keep the sun off me. Wow! Now I can watch and wait in comfort. Bring it on, God!
No movement in Nineveh. Has God changed his mind?
And now the vine has shrivelled up in the heat, I’d be better off dead out here. The Ninevites wouldn’t know―or care.
God, you’ve made a fool of me! I should have known you’d go soft in the end. I could have enjoyed my break in Tarshish all along! What a waste of time…
The voice returns―free of schizophrenia. No mistake now.
“Jonah, stop kicking your chin around. Just tell me this: aren’t thousands of Ninevites who turn to obey me more important than your fragile comfort zone?”
That overseas holiday didn’t work out as I’d hoped. But hey, the under-seas trip has sparked up a fantastic idea. Maybe God could call me to new preaching tours. Now there’s a real PR campaign: “JONAH – GOD’S GASTRONAUT – HE’S GONE WHERE NO MAN HAS EVER GONE BEFORE!”
Now, to Star-Trek-onnoitring places to visit; so my next trip is more prophet-able…
Author’s note: Poor old Jonah never quite realized that it wasn’t all about him; but about God’s grace extending beyond the Hebrews―and beyond any threat of judgement alone.
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