Jonah 1: You Can Run...
David Clawson, a former member of Dundonald Methodist who is now Assistant Minister at Craigyhill Presbyterian in Larne, was back in Dundonald speaking at our Youth Fellowship service... He (and indeed the whole service led by the young people) was excellent... He was speaking from Jonah 1 & 2... Prompting me to post a series of pieces based on the book of Jonah... the complete antithesis of what a prophet should be...
Originally I delivered this first one covered in water and swathed in seaweed... I also adapted it for use in the Connexions event at the 2004 Dublin Conference, and delivered it standing knee deep in a fountain.
You just wouldn't believe it! The week I've had. It all began with a message from God... Recorded delivery, so I couldn't even pretend it had got lost in the post. It was addressed to Jonah, Son of Amittai, Prophet of Israel... That's me... But I was in no way ready for what was inside. It said "Dear Jonah, I would like you to go and tell the people of Nineveh to change their wicked ways." Signed The LORD (in capital letters). Nineveh! I mean... that’s in Iraq… and I don’t have to tell you what it is like there... But it was then that I remembered that I hadn't had a holiday for a while... This prophesying lark is very tiring you know, so I popped off to the local travel agent to see if they had any last minute cheapies... Saw just what I wanted! Tarshish on the Spanish coast... Sun, sea, sand, sangria and not a Ninevite in sight... So I booked my ticket, headed off to Joppa where I caught the boat, and hit my bunk. Took a couple of sea-sickness tablets... Never was the best of sailors... and went to sleep...
It seemed like only a few minutes but the next thing I knew, the captain was shaking me saying "Wake up! Wake up!" I thought, how nice of the captain to wake me in person... But then I noticed that the boat was having difficulty deciding which way was up. We were obviously in the middle of a storm. No cooked breakfast for me, I thought.
But then the captain said "Are you a religious man?"
"Well, yes," I replied.
"Well, then get up and pray to your God to save us, we've tried everything else..."
To be honest, I didn't really feel like praying. First, its hard to pray when you're about to throw up. And second, I wasn't convinced that God and I were still on speaking terms. But I got out of my bunk and went up on deck to find out what was happening.
I expected to find the sailors splicing the mainbrace, or weighing the anchor, or shivering their timbers or whatever sailors are supposed to do in a storm... But I found them drawing a lottery to decide whose fault it all was... Well, I thought I was safe enough... Never won a lottery yet... It could be you... Not likely... At least not until this time. The lucky winner was, Jonah, son of Amittai. All their eyes turned towards me.
"Look guys, I can explain" I said, "I'm on the run..."
"Who are you on the run from? What did you do?" they asked, with a sailor's usual relish for a good, and hopefully bloody, story.
"Well, it's more what I didn't do. I didn't obey God and go to Nineveh... I'm on the run from God, who made the land and the sea."
"Well it seems like you've made him pretty angry," said one of the sailors. "What are we supposed to do?"
"Well, I suppose you could throw me over the side, if you want. After all, it's only me that God is after..."
I said it half joking, as a matter of form, but before the words were out of my mouth they had me up on their shoulders ready to throw me into the sea. The last thing I remember them saying is a prayer "God, forgive us if he's innocent, if not, he's all yours..." And with that they threw me into the sea... no lifejacket, no rubber ring, no nothing... It was now a straight choice between God and the deep blue sea.
But you just wouldn't believe what happened next...
© David A. Campton 2001