Written and preached by David P. Nolte

JONAH 1:1-2:2

There is an old saying that bespeaks the tragedy of slow learning. It says, "We grow too soon old, too late wise." We can probably identify with that in many ways. There are pains we would not have suffered if we'd practiced wisdom. There are problems we could have avoided if we'd had sagacity. There are difficulties we could have averted if we'd had prudence. But, though it does not have to be so, sometimes we seem only to learn what the right choices are by making wrong choices. Many people experience heartache, disappointment, distress, and all manner of suffering because they go about things the wrong way. Truly, "we grow too soon old, too late wise." Jonah was such a man. God saw and determined to do something about the wickedness of Nineveh. He was not willing to let them remain in and die in their sins. So he called Jonah to go preach to that city. Keep in mind that the Ninevites were cruel people, enemies of Israel and Jonah had every human reason for not going there. He reminds me of Chad, a teenage boy. His parents were going out with friends for the evening and told him to stay home to finish his history paper. He asked permission to use the car for awhile. He said he needed to borrow a book from his friend, Todd. His father told him he had all the books he needed and his request was denied. He was clearly told again to stay home to do his paper. Consider the text today and the lessons it contains.

Chad knew what his dad said, but he had plans of his own. He wanted to drive the car and any pretext, even borrowing a book, worked for him. So, once the progenitors were out of the house, so was he. Jonah knew what the Lord said. He knew that the Lord was sending him to Nineveh. He also knew that Nineveh was not a healthy place for a Jew. Besides, he had never placed Nineveh on his list of Top 10 sites to vacation. It wasn't on his itinerary. He was aware of what the Lord said, but had ideas of his own.

Chad disobediently drove the family car, though forbidden to do so. He took precaution, though. He had to be sure to put in enough gas so his parents wouldn't notice. He would work fast on his paper when he got home. He thought, "No one will be the wiser!" To his horror, on the way to Todd's house he got a flat-tire! He had never changed a tire in his life! Now he was not only going to have to change it, but have it fixed and still get home, cleaned up and working before his folks got home. He figured out how to jack the car up, and began working on the lug-nuts. They seemed frozen in place. The harder he worked, the tighter they seemed to be. He worked for about half an hour trying to loosen the nuts and finally gave up. He walked to a gas station, exhausted, frustrated and in big trouble. Jonah found out the hard way, too, that doing it his way instead of God's way leads to trouble.

Chad was about to meet his consequence. When he got to the service station it was after 10:00 p.m. The attendant drove him back to the stranded car to take care of the tire. He seemed to have no trouble at all getting the tire off. Chad couldn't believe it. Why couldn't he get them off? Why had they been on so tight? He asked the attendant how he had managed to get them off so quickly. The attendant asked, "Which way were you turning them?" Chad thought it was a stupid question. Of course any one knows it's "righty-tighty and lefty-loosey!" The attendant said, "Not with lug-nuts. On this side of the car the threads are reversed. You have to turn them clockwise to loosen them!" What a dope Chad thought he had been. And he was right. Not only had he turned the lug-nuts the wrong way, but he had gone the wrong way in defying his parents' instructions. So had Jonah gone the wrong way in disobeying God. God said, "Go to Nineveh!" Jonah went to Joppa to get a ship to Tarshish. He chose his own way, the wrong way.

When Chad got home, he was of course disciplined. But the day came when he got to drive the car again -- with permission. His parents didn't disown or discard him for his wrong. Maybe, like Chad, you've done it your own way though you knew it wasn't God's way. Perhaps you've been turning the wrench the wrong way. You can't get free from your predicament. Stop doing it your way, and do it God's way. Forgive instead of get even; walk in truth instead of in deceit; keep the flesh in check instead of pandering to its lusts; repent of, renounce, and repudiate sin instead of excusing and indulging it. The world is going its own way; the wrong way. You can choose the world's way or you can choose God's way, the Jesus way. It's your choice; you are free to decide. God calls you to go Christ's way. Don't grow too soon old and too late wise. Choose Christ, choose life.

Hot Illustrations For Youth Talks, Youth Specialties, El Cajon, Ca., Wayne Rice.

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