Bobby was sitting at the counter of a pancake house looking through the classifieds. I sat down next to him and ordered breakfast. I always feel uneasy in situations where I'm in close proximity with people I do not know while doing something I do not care to share, in this case eating a meal.
I made a quick glance over to my right and noticed a few things about Bobby. He was missing three fingers on his left hand, he had long, barely brushed hair, and he was smoking. Not the kind of guy I usually sit down with for breakfast. Just as I mustered up the confidence to say good morning I noticed something else. Bobby's wife was the waitress on the other side of the counter. Their manor of speaking and looking at one another gave it away.
I don't like to admit it, but I was eavesdropping on Bobby and his wife. Bobby was looking for a job in the help wanted section. He mentioned an opening for a fork lift driver and then one about an over-the-road driver for a truck line. His wife looked on with disapproval.
The picture began to clear for me. Here was a man, not at all like me, looking for a job while his wife is earning a waitress' salary plus tips. I speculated that life was difficult for Bobby and his wife. Money was probably tight. Tension was probably high. Self-confidence was probably low.
At that precise moment I began to realize something about myself. I identified in a profound, personal way with a world filled with people without hope, people who are in desperate need of the lighter load and heavenly hope Jesus offers. I began to realize my life was insulated from the pain, fear, and desperation of the everyday man. My revelation came with an awareness that I lived with a measure of security, purpose, and love that most folks just don't have. I began to see myself as Jonah the prophet, blessed and satisfied, happy to be on God's side and content to let others deal with their own future. I came face to face with the ugly truth that I had been blessed but didn't care to share that blessing with others.
I wish I could describe this life altering moment in words less mundane. But it was in such a mundane way, in such a mundane place, that God chose to revolutionize my perspective. Frankly, I've never been the same. My journey from that moment on has been one of discovery, both of myself and others, and passion.
Perhaps this is why I began to study the book of Jonah? The prophet Jonah was commanded to do exactly what you and I are instructed to do: share the message of God with people who are different. Consider the forty-eight verses of this little book in the Old Testament. They tell of God's handling of his messenger, a messenger who was not always willing and not always obedient. Yet, God has never allowed unwilling or unfaithful people to stand in the way of the divine purpose.
In some way these reflections on the book of Jonah are a record of my own transformational journey. I hope it is helpful for those who find themselves wavering somewhere between service and serve us. I pray you hear the message in Jonah, a message that can open your eyes, change your heart, and move your feet.