Watch him tremble as he draws the money pouch from beneath his robe. Listen to the clink of the coins against the dirty countertop and see him snatch the ticket from the merchants hand. How quickly he scurries down the gangplank, sneaking below decks and secreting himself among the cargoes. Is he hidden? Do the thudding feet and shouted commands overhead give him pause or does he yet resist the urge to surrender to his calling?
The ropes are loosed from the dock. The tug of wind in the sails cause the ship to sway and the fleeing prophet is on his way to a rendezvous with destiny. He closes his eyes and slumping into a secluded hole between great bales of cotton soon falls into a fitful sleep. Far from the shore, (beyond the point of no return), he is awakened by voices shouting against howling winds and staggering to his feet is flung violently across the floor. And as the freight is being hoisted onto the decks and thrown into the raging sea, he is discovered, indicted, convicted and tossed overboard where he finds himself among the flotsam, watching the ship sail away.
Watch him, as bobbing about holding to a piece of discarded freight, so alone on that vast and placid seascape, he contemplates his options. Listen to his sad commentary, his empty pledges, his heartfelt but fruitless attempts at repentance. Observe his terror as the great sea beast rises to the surface just yards away. Hear the splash as he is engulfed in its gigantic maw. See the swirl as the beast plunges into the depths with his prey. Now listen to the prophet pray.
But Jonah's real problem was not so dramatic. As overwhelming and traumatic as his plunge into the depths was, it was instead, a very small problem that nearly sunk him.
Being bound in an elastic stomach, soaked in gastric juices, smothered and gagging while vying for space with soar mackerel and bladder kelp for three days and nights, is certainly no picnic, but it never interrupted his prayers. Being vomited out onto a sun drenched beach and washed clean among the recurring ocean waves probably even started a revival in which he rejoice all the way to Nineveh. But, it didn't make him angry with God. It was a small matter, a little thing that almost wrecked their relationship.
Obedience, even delayed obedience, produced a fire in Jonah's belly that captured the attention of Nineveh's wicked King and sent him staggering to his knees. So urgent was his preaching, so intense was his conviction, he convinced 60,000 rebellious people to repent in most abject humility. But in an unreasoning quest for personal validation the prophet would have sentenced those same people to a tragic and miserable end.
It was just a small thing, a tiny green worm that brought the revival to a grinding halt. And, it is most often the small things that render us impotent, leaving us stumbling along deserted roads on our way to spiritual alienation. What great moves of God have been stymied by personal pride and the stubborn, face saving antics of many godly, anointed individuals.
Sit with the preacher outside the cursed city as God dispenses healing and deliverance instead of vengeance and destruction. Feel his rage at being made to look like one of the false prophets who constantly misled the masses with their generalizations and gross misapplication of godly inspiration. After all, God had set a date and the date had passed and he, Jonah, was looking like a fool. Help him build his meager shelter and swelter with him as the heat index breaks records. Now relax with him and rejoice with unspeakable joy over the luxurious vine, grown by God and planted in just the right place to comfort and shade his most valiant warrior.
Wait! What is that tiny green worm doing to the shade tree? Don't, however, join him in his judgment of the God of the worm.
How fervently we pray when great trials fill our horizons. How apt we are to "go it alone" when it's just life we face or when we feel we must save face.
The revivals, miracles, inspired utterances, manifestations and prophecies are all born in the heart of God and when He pauses, we should too. Such times call for more prayer not less. We must never attempt to run our race on empty. Those are the times we find ourselves stranded in no man's land with green worms gnawing away at our God provided validation.
In 2 Chronicles 32:31 King Hezekiah, enjoying a life extended by God Himself, stood at a crossroads for himself and his kingdom and in a moment of careless pride sacrificed it all when: "God left him, to try him, that he might know what was in his heart."
May we pass the test. The test of "little things"!
Please pray for America. Pray for our country.
[Editor's Comment: God has given to us a prophetic voice in Ronald Gadberry. He is an ordained minister of the IPHC, and serves as an evangelist. and a member of the New Horizons Ministries Conference. He is offering his services as an evangelist and singer to pastors of churches who desire to engage in revival and preaching mission services.
You may contact Ronald Gadberry at the following address and/or telephone numbers:
The Rev. Mr. Ronald Gadberry
509 Cottage Park Lane
Shawnee, Oklahoma 74804
1-405-834-0479 / 1-405-808-2937
He will do your church good.]