Most people have heard about Jonah and the whale. (Actually one version says "God prepared a great fish." Jonah 1:17)
As a young child I recall drawing pictures of the historical event in Sunday school.
But it wasn't until about 10 years ago that the Lord impressed on my heart to read this small book in the Old Testament. And this story just came to life for me. It seemed in every paragraph the Lord directly spoke something to me about events and circumstances happening in my own life and people around me.
This "live action" account shows us so much about our loving God, who does not delight in the death of the wicked but that all men should be saved.
So it was with the wicked city of Nineveh, and Jonah was a prophet sent by God to warn the people but instead “Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish, from the presence of the Lord … ” Jonah 1:3
Shortly after I read this, I was in circumstances where I was being heavily persecuted for my faith in the full Gospel message by several people and it was a great temptation to just "board a ship and FLEE" the situation. But I heard (in my spirit) the voice of my Lord clearly, but gently, speak these words to me "Don't run, Jonah!"
And I knew exactly what He meant by this because I had read that book in the Bible. And God was using a real-life history lesson to guide me and encourage me to keep standing.
I cannot express to you how much I have come to depend on the word of God and how important it is in my life. This is how we come to "know" Him. That intimacy comes from spending time in His word/ presence and keeping that word with us in our heart all day, every day.
A couple of years ago, I was visiting with an 85-year-old woman (I'll call Molly for this column) at a nursing care facility.
The woman was bedridden and she told me that she had lost her home during Harvey. She was worried about so many things because she had so many decisions to make.
I began to try and encourage/ remind her of God's love for her and His willingness to help her by using some scriptures along with my testimony of the Lord's goodness.
Molly said she was aware that God had helped her all through her life but she really didn't know what the Bible said or understand how it could help her.
I know how the word of God can build our faith because it helps us to quit focusing/ magnifying our problems and begin to magnify God.
But I wanted her to read it for herself. So I glanced around her room for a Bible and asked her if she had one. "Oh, I do but it's packed away somewhere in all that mess. We left so quickly."
I spotted a book on her dresser that was pink and resembled a small Bible or devotional and I asked her about it.
"Oh, honey, a friend gave that to me years ago but I just recently opened it up. Brenda, read the inscription."
I flipped through and found it was a daily devotional with Bible verses.
Again she told me to read the inscription on the first page.
It turned out that it was a personal note from a friend with an invitation to contact her so they could visit because this person wanted them to get to know each other better.
Molly spoke up with tears in her eyes, "Brenda, it just breaks my heart because I had this book for many years but never opened it so I didn't know that she wanted me to contact her. All this time. All this time."
I stopped in my tracks.
I sat down beside her on the bed and gently told her, "Molly, that is why we have the Bible. It is God's personal invitation to us to sit with Him and get to know His heart and let Him heal ours. This is how we become intimate with Him."
If we don't know the word of God, the Holy Spirit cannot bring it to our remembrance and we will stay ignorant (devoid) of this knowledge of knowing Him.
"And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." John 17:3
I believe the Lord is saying to us, “Don't run away from Me, Jonah, sit with Me awhile and know My heart.”
Contact Brenda Groves at: email@example.com