Jonah & Micah
...O sleeper? Arise...
We all know the story of Jonah.
The task from the Lord. The running away from Ninevah. The boat. The storm. The throwing overboard. The big fish. The three days in the belly.
Remember that Jonah?
Today I can’t help but think about how Jonah’s story in the Bible compares to Alma’s story in the Book of Mormon.
Two prophets called of God. Both asked to cry repentance to two very wicked cities. One to Ninevah. The other to Ammonihah. Persecution, discouragement, perhaps failure, and possibly even death awaited them within the city walls.
But the Lord had a purpose in mind for these two cities. He knew these men were capable of preaching the gospel with the Spirit. He knew the Spirit was capable of changing hearts.
The difference in the two accounts is the way each prophet responded to the commandment of the Lord.
Jonah “rose up to flee.” (Jonah 1:3)
“After Alma had received his message from the angel of the Lord he returned speedily and entered the city by another way.” (Alma 8:18)
In Alma’s case, the Lord had prepared the way before him so that he could accomplish the great work in store. An angel had been sent. A man’s heart softened. A companion was waiting to assist in the work.
In Jonah’s case, the Lord had also prepared a way for him to accomplish the great work in store. The Lord sent the wind, caused a mighty tempest, and “prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah.” (Jonah 1:17)
There is an important lesson here.
The doctrine of this lesson can be found within the words of a well known letter written by Joseph Smith.
“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”
Nothing can stop the work of the Lord. He will always prepare the way for His great work to be accomplished. If we act upon the direction we are given and allow the Spirit to be our guide, great blessings await us.
But sometimes we might feel overwhelmed by the task at hand. Frightened. Discouraged.
We must remember that ours is a God who “delighteth in mercy.” (Micah 7:18)
He will give us every chance to succeed. He will prepare the way for us to accomplish His great work, even if it requires unlikely adventures.
One of my very most favorite lines in the story of Jonah happens just after he has fled to the ship, as the ship is being tossed by the great tempest in the sea.
Jonah is fast asleep.
“So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him…O sleeper? Arise, call upon thy God.” (Jonah 1:6)
It has caused me to analyze my own life.
Are there areas in which I am sleeping as the tempest rages around me?
Am I missing out on a great work I could be performing on the Lord’s behalf within my family, my calling, or my circle of influence?
If so, I need to arise… to move from the place where I am to a place that I need to be. Speedily.
I must call upon my God.
He knows the great work He has in store for me.
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MICAH Who is like unto the Lord?
...that which does not satisfy...
It was as I sat in the dentist chair this morning that I felt the regret.
The hard lemon candy that had seemed so appealing one morning several weeks ago really hadn’t been worth it.
It hadn’t been worth the dull ache keeping me up at night.
It hadn’t been worth the cost of now repairing the damage.
It hadn’t been worth the time I was giving up to fix a big problem caused by a small, yellow piece of candy.
The satisfaction from the sweet sugar had been momentary.
The consequences lasting.
And now, I sat in the dentist chair waiting for him to fix a problem I couldn’t resolve on my own.
In that moment, sitting in the chair, lip growing numb, one thought kept running through my mind:
As sweet as it was, that lemon drop just hadn’t been worth it.
After I left the office I read this verse in Micah.
“Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied; and thy casting down shall be in the midst of thee.” (Micah 6:14)
The footnote makes it easier to understand.
“Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied; thy hunger shall be in thy inward parts.”
After my lemon drop experience, I can sort of understand what it means to eat something and not be satisfied.
But I don’t think Micah was talking about lemon drops.
I think he was talking about spiritual hunger…
The kind of hunger that is down deep inside your soul ––the emptiness, the longing, the yearning for something more.
Sometimes we try to take care of that hunger, that longing, that aching, with that which cannot satisfy. If we are not careful, our choice might cause us pain. It might come with a cost we are not willing to pay. It might even lead to greater hunger…emptiness that reaches deep into our inward parts.
The Savior knows how to satisfy our hungering, our yearning, our aching. I have felt His ability to soothe the longing in my own life. I have seen Him heal the aching in the hearts of those I love.
He understands our innermost longing. The emptiness.
He knows our wants. He knows our needs.
Only He can bring that which will satisfy.
Through Him, we will become full.