Vol.XV No.IV Pg.8
June 1978

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

Jonah sought vainly to flee from the presence of the Lord, apparently to avoid his assigned obligation to preach to the wicked people of Nineveh. When finally he began his work, he warned, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown" (Jonah 3:4). He was a prophet of doom — and must have been very convincing — for they "believed God; and they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them." There is a valid place for warnings, severe and to the point.

But Jonah seemed more concerned about his status as a prophet of doom, than he did about the welfare of those he warned. When "God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way" he "repented of the evil which he said he would do unto them; and he did it not" (3:5, 10). And this displeased Jonah! (4:1-f) He seemed to have lost sight of the purpose in warnings — to save rather than to revel in human misery; to pull from the fire rather than to warm his hands with the heat.

We have bigger and better tornadoes in TEXAS; albeit some otherwise brave Texans cringe at the thought. One muscled hulk of a man (with a beard so thick his wife has to kiss him through a straw) cries like a baby when it thunders — (well, that's the way "they" tell it on him). And one good story leads to another.

"They say" he built himself a concrete and steel cellar; and practically lived in it. Every time a little cloud blew in he would run to his underground shelter, sit in the dark, fearfully contemplating the supposed destruction above, then finally emerge to find all safe and sound, refreshed by the lovely rain shower.

Until that day when he pushed back his cellar door and stepped out into a changed world. His house was nowhere to be seen; his barns and sheds were but scattered wreckage; trees were splintered and pulled from the ground; his cattle were all dead. He looked long and hard, he sighed heavily, and then he said, "Now, that's more like it!!"

Lord, if we must hear the crackle of Hell's fire in order to see and correct our waywardness and escape its heat, so be it. But deliver us from the doomsday "prophets" who use our fears to sell their wares. Help us to "cast out fear" and anchor our soul in the Haven of Rest.