Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. Jonah 1:8-10
As we read this passage in our Daily writers meeting, I had to chuckle at Jonah’s answer to the pagan sailors. He declares, “I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Really? I thought to myself. Do you? How does running in the opposite direction and openly disobeying God demonstrate that you fear him? It seems as though Jonah’s answer is primarily an automated response born out of head knowledge rather than heart-living. He’s got the statement of faith correct, but does that matter if he isn’t living it?
What about me and you? How often do we verbally articulate all the right jargon about what we believe about God yet our lives don’t match it? I’ve been challenged recently by a book called Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren. The author writes about her struggle to choose to sit in silence for the first few waking moments of the day. She says, “We have everyday habits – formative practices – that constitute daily liturgies. By reaching for my smartphone every morning, I had developed a ritual that trained me toward a certain end: entertainment and stimulation via technology. Regardless of my professed worldview or particular Christian subculture, my unexamined daily habit was shaping me into a worshiper of glowing screens.”
It may not be screens and entertainment that are capturing your attention and luring you into creating daily habits around them. Perhaps it’s recognition or achievement. Maybe it’s productivity, pleasure or purpose. If you’re chasing after any of those things, or perhaps others, ask yourself an honest question “Does what I do and think everyday reflect a person who fears the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land? Or am I only saying so?”
Take a moment to lift your eyes to the mountains (if you can get a view of them). If not, picture their towering beauty in your mind. I invite you to pray this prayer of confession: Father God, you are a powerful, merciful, personal God who created these breathtaking mountains. Just as creation does your bidding, aid me to do your bidding as well, to fear you not only in word but much more in deed. Keep me aware of the ships to Tarshish I keep running to and help me turn in full repentance to live in your way with your heart (not merely say “I agree with your way and I like your heart”).
By Ellen Rosenberger