“What are you thankful for?”
This is what I asked my 2 year old son as we were huddled together on our knees with our hands clasped.
I’ll never forget the look on his face as he pondered the infinite possibilities. Bypassing all assumed answers (grandparents, cars, ‘Mom,’ etc.), he finally replied “Jonah.”
Eleven years later and now members of Shandon, it seems a little ironic that ‘Jonah’ has such a prominent presence in our lives. Pastor Lincoln has informed us of the purpose behind this beautiful fountain outside our church doors: a reminder of Matthew 12:39-42. When asked for a miraculous sign, Jesus states that “none will be given except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (v. 39-40, NIV).
It’s hard to walk through the courtyard outside Shandon's Worship Center without gazing up at him. I think about Jesus’ response to the request of the Pharisees and teachers of the law and his declaration that “one greater than Jonah is here.”
Moreover, I think about God’s instructions to his prophet and Jonah’s resistance. I imagine how he must have felt while in the depth of the sea and then during his prayer of thanksgiving inside the belly of that big fish. I ponder the state of his heart as he walks about in Ninevah proclaiming God’s message only to exit the city with anger at God’s mercy.
So, I too am thankful for Jonah.
I’m thankful that his story not only foreshadows Jesus’ victory over death, but also prompts me to examine my heart.
Am I obedient?
Do I genuinely care about the lives of all of God’s people?
Do I only offer praise for God’s hand of mercy in my life… or do I rejoice greatly in God’s love and grace toward all who believe in him?
As I leave church on Sundays, may his image spur me--and you--on to obey, show compassion, and desire to share with the world that “one greater than Jonah is alive!”