“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Mark Twain

Not Just A Fish Story - Worth Mourning Over

Have you noticed that almost every time you look at a person from the Bible and think "what an idiot he/she is," God reminds you that you aren't so different? Well, it may not happen to you, but it sure does to me--more often than I'd like to admit. And it happened as I was reading the fourth chapter of the book of Jonah.
Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, "It would be better for me to die than to live."But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?" "I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die." Jonah 4:5-9 NIV
Here's Jonah the prophet, man of God, living proof of the Lord's mercy, ready to die because his "shade plant" is no longer shading him from the sun. He's angry--really angry--over a vine that wasn't there 25 hours ago and isn't again now.

Now, maybe you've never gotten this angry about a plant, but I have certainly blown my top over things just as important. The frustration I've expressed when, say, I get a run in my stocking, when my internet is down, or I'm behind a slow vehicle, can irritate me much more than it should--almost as much, I'm ashamed to say, as Jonah. The things that make me upset are often ridiculous.

Yet there are other things--much more important ones--that cause me little to no grief. Both of my parents, all four of my brothers, and all of their spouses and children are unsaved, as is most of my not-as-immediate family. Many on my husband's side of the family do not know Jesus either. And of course, there are millions of citizens of this world who are heading for eternal damnation.

Sure--I'll get anxious or upset about it sometimes. I'll yearn to do something about it. But not always. Sometimes, if you judge my reactions, I mourn more over a lost set of keys than my lost parents. And, on those days, I'm just like Jonah.
But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?" Jonah 4:10-11 NIV
Of course He should. And so should I. What's your "vine?" And what is your "Ninevah?"

Heavenly Father, please help me to get my priorities straight. Guide me, Lord, to put Your interests ahead of my own selfish ones. Help me, Lord, to truly mourn over the lost, and to let go of the things of this world that I desire only to bring me pleasure, or to make my life easier. Help me to care less and less about my vine, and more and more about my Ninevah. Help me to see how ridiculous I look--how like Jonah I look--when I am distressed and angry about the things in this life while ignoring the people You so long for me to bring to You. Thank You, Lord, for dying for me, and all the people You long for me to help You reach. In the precious name of your Son I pray. Amen


  1. "what an idiot he/she is," God reminds you that you aren't so different?" So True. Thank God for grace.

  2. I know these feelings. My family is unsaved too.
    Thanks for this post, Jo. Sunny

  3. Very convicting. Sometimes I wonder how God puts up with any of us (especially me)!

  4. I am so very glad we have these most human of humans in the Bible to learn and grow from. Thank you for sharing, Jo.

  5. Pretty much everyone I meet these days...they're my Ninevah and the penchant of God's love. I am convicted to find a way to reach them without beating them over the head with my Bible. Also, the world in general. Where we're headed often frightens me. I need to be in constant prayer and thus in constant movement toward a solution rather than sitting around whining about it all.

    Way to pump up my Monday!


  6. Wonderful words of wisdom, and I'd like to join you in your prayer. I too have moments of idiocy that I wish I didn't. Love this series you've been so faithful with.

    I have two Blog Awards for you over at my blog, so stop by when you have a chance! Blessings, friend!

  7. Excellent lesson...everytime I teach this story, it speaks to me.
    Thanks for reminding me to realize that God shows mercy and forgiveness to those who show repentence. I need to care more about the world than my petty wishes.

  8. I am so with you, Jo! I get upset over all the wrong things--just like Jonah. Thanks for pointing out the right path.


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