This coming Sunday I will be preaching at both services about the story of Jonah; particularly about the fact that Jonah runs from God, as we all do from time to time.
While most of us do not literally get in a boat and sail away from God as fast as we can, most of us have had times when we felt God pulling us in one direction, or calling us to do something, and we turned a blind eye or simply ignored the calling.
I understand Jonah. I am Jonah. I am often confronted by things that I know God wants me to respond to, but I either feel to busy to engage, or honestly I just don’t want to get involved. We’ve all passed that homeless person on the street, and if you’re like me, you’ve secretly wondered if they are really in need, or if they are scamming people. What a horrible thought! But I admit that I wonder that sometimes.
It is so easy to be skeptical of everything, and cynicism is particularly easy to adopt in our culture. It is easy to run from God because everything is vying for our attention.
I have been watching the OIympics non-stop because Emma and I are both obsessed with them every time they arrive. Winter or summer, we are good to watch all of them. The ones that are shown on TV in the middle of the afternoon are particularly interesting. We watched the Steeplechase on Saturday, which is apparently something that humans do as well as horses. Who knew?
Anyhow, watching these incredible athletes compete and hearing about their back stories constantly inspires me. To hear about their complete devotion to their sport is captivating. They are in the gym all day, every day. I often wonder what my life would look like if I had a similar devotion to the work of God.
I mean, sure, I’ve devoted my life to God and the Church, and I’m engaged in active ministry basically every day of the week, but I take days off and I get lazy. Maybe it’s because there aren’t any ministerial olympics for which to train. Can you imagine if there were? A bunch of out-of-shape clergy trying to out-preach each other while wearing spandex? Who can baptize the most children in 60 seconds with minimal splash? Higher starting value if you also anoint the child with oil!
But in all seriousness, it is easy to grow lazy, distracted and even bored with the work of God. We often miss the calling that God places on our lives, and I wonder what our world would look like if we all tended to the things of God with such singular focus and passion that these athletes possess.
I hope to see you on Sunday, and if you’re able, read the Book of Jonah before you arrive. It’s only a few pages long. Hear the fear and pain in Jonah’s life and think of times in which you have run from God as well. Then we will gather on Sunday and explore together the way that God chases us relentlessly, and never gives up on us.
Have a great final week of Olympic glory, my friends. GO TEAM USA!