Get out of the shade, enjoy the sunshine!
Definition: *From Dictionary.com
1. The shining of the sun; direct light of the sun.
2. Brightness or radiance; cheerfulness or happiness.
3. A source of cheer or happiness.
1. The comparative darkness caused by the interception or screening of rays of light from an object, place, or area.
2. A place or an area of comparative darkness, as one sheltered from the sun.
“10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah 3:10-4:3
Jonah was sent from his comfortable living to Tarshish, a very wicked place that Jonah despised deeply. Due to the fact that he loathed this place so intently along with the people that lived there, he ran away; leaving God’s plan to show grace to the Tarshish people behind. After a few life-threatening events and some time to think, Jonah revisited his calling from God and traveled to Tarshish to spread the message that was given to him. Although Jonah’s expectation was not so high, he continued with the plan. After sharing the message, Jonah awaited God’s judgment on the wickedness of Tarshish. When God relented, or held back, his anger due to the Tarshish people asking for forgiveness, Jonah was not happy. That is what we see in Jonah chapter 3:10 to chapter 4:3.
As I look though this passage I see perfect examples of darkness and light. Reading through this passage, I understand the implications and effects that darkness and light have on our lives. I also understand that you need both of them to grow closer to God with an intentionally deeper relationship.
Yesterday morning I woke up and went for a walk. With my headphones on I choose a selection of songs and began my descent down the road. The first few songs that I listened to were a bit dark in context, leaving a heavy effect on my mindset. I realized that my thought process and my emotions were being set into motion from the message of those songs. So, If I had continued to listen to song with a more negative and heavy emotional message to them, I would have had a heavier and more displeasing day. Opposite that, if I begin my day with up tempo, upbeat music with a positive message; my day would be more cherish and pleasant. I continued my walk with Christ-centered music and prayer and it was truly different.
What does this antidote have to the passage in Jonah?
We see in the context that in the beginning of Jonah there is a darkness of thought surrounding Jonah. This darkness magnifies the last bad experience that Jonah had with the people of Tarshish and uses it to warp and bend his belief in the goodness of God. Due to the previous experience that Jonah had with the people of Tarshish (whatever that experience was we are not sure) Jonah already had an opinion on whether they deserved God’s grace and forgiveness.
In many cases our upcoming day is determined by something from our past, typically the 24 hours prior. I know from experience that if I had a bad day one day I usually carried that emotion for the next 24 hours, which caused rift of bad vibes to ripple into the day, or days, to come. As a teacher I noticed this way too often. I would have a rotten day one day and because I would carry those toxic feelings the next day I was already setting myself up to have a rotten for the days to come. I was allowing my past events to dictate my future days.
The second thing that we notice is that the shade shielding Jonah’s vision allowed the darkness of his to try to use God’s goodness towards others and warp it into something wicked. In chapter 4 it says this, “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” Jonah speaks this after admitting that he fled from fulfilling God’s word because he wanted to forestall, or prevent God saving the Tarshish people. The foul opinion of the Tarshish people clouded Jonah’s mind so much that he passed judgment on the people that he was called to preach to. In addition, Jonah was calling God out on his word saying that he knew that God wouldn’t punish the Tarshish people for their sins. Basically, Jonah was calling God soft.
When we are living with a dark cloud looming over our heads, whether that be sin or a cloud of bad attitudes and warped mindsets, anytime we see living or demonstrating correct manners or behavior we tend to see it as weak or soft. For example, if you have build the habit of filling our mind and mouth with foul language that tears people down and demeans them, anytime that you see someone who is polite and used their words to build individuals up you will typically see that as pathetic and feeble. Our mind has been distorted to believe that we are the manly ones or the tough ones. When, in actuality, we are showing ourselves as the one who is weak and in need of fixing.
The final area of darkness that we see in this passage is in chapter 4 verse 3. “3 Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” This darkness created such a hatred for the Tarshish people that when God forgave them and allowed them to live, Jonah became irrational and dramatic. He declared that he would rather die hating the people of Tarshish than see them live. Due to the darkness that filled his heart and clouded his mind, Jonah did not see that value that God saw when it came to these chosen people. His distorted mindset saw them as unworthy, vile and disgusting human beings who deserved the eternal separation from God the father.
Throughout this passage we see one example of sunshine. Although there is only one, it truthfully triumphs over the three examples of the shade that we see. In chapter 3 verse 10 it says, “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.” Despite his disagreement, Jonah delivered the message that God gave him to the people of Tarshish and they grabbed on to it firmly. They believed in the warning turned their lives and their hearts to God. When God saw the hearts of these people whom he loved dearly change before His eyes I could only imagine that He was filled with an extraordinary amount of joy. So much so that he showed them grace instead of punishment and He gave them a new life to live. Although we don’t know what it is, we know that many of the Tarshish people live under the shady reach of sin. A sin that clouded their minds and possibly filled their hearts with the same hatred that filled Jonah’s, but because of the grace and mercy of a loving and compassionate God, they were freed from that umbrella of sin and allowed to live in the sunshine of the Heavenly Father.
We may have dark cloud looming over us that directly effects our day or our attitude. This cloud may cause us emotional damage or scarring over time, but it doesn’t have to last forever. We are able to walk away from the covering of that cloud and see the world in the vibrant light of the Heavenly Father’s grace and mercy. This grace and mercy allows us to see the beauty in the world regardless of the evidence of the fallen world that we live in.
Through the message of the gospel and the cross of Christ we can live in glorious days that are filled with the love and compassion of God, a very caring father. We do not need to let the darkness of our past experiences or our foul attitude dictate how beautiful the day will be.
What kind of day will you have? Will you continue to live in the shade or will you enjoy the sunshine?
Anthony K. Giesick
I grew up loving stories and quickly found myself loving writing poetry, stories, songs! Here is a sample of what Beautiful Feet Writings is all about!.