On Father’s day we were invited to a bible church by Daughts and her Hubs.

Called The Parks it meets in the courthouse in downtown McKinney, a familiar venue and close to home.

I was reminded of the services I’d attended at McKinney Christian Academy, non-denominational praise and worship that spoke across all religious principles.  The band was fabulous especially the drummer and the lead singer had a strong confident voice.  We stood for 4 songs in a row (I for one was ready to sit after 3 but then I am no longer 20 something!).

I managed to stay on my feet.


Finally we sat and the preaching began.

The young pastor’s topic was the book of Jonah; this was the first of a four week series.

We read it through, a familiar enough story to me.

Jonah is commanded by God to go to Nineveh, a city he despises because of its sinful ways.  Jonah flees from God and makes his way to Joppa to catch a boat to Tarshish.

There’s a ship in dock, it’s Tarshish bound and Jonah finds himself aboard and off to escape God’s watchful eye.

He falls a sleep in the hold and does not hear a storm raging above.  When he finally awakens it’s to a boat load of frightened crew convinced the ship’s going to sink and they’re going to drown.  Jonah, realizing this is God’s wrath brought on by his disobedience, volunteers to be thrown overboard and off he goes into the waiting jaws of a whale.  The storm abates immediately and the pagans on the ship, now bobbing about safely on calm waters, become believers in this God who has control over the wind and the sea.

We know the rest of the story, Jonah prays for his release from the whale’s belly and after 3 days is vomited onto the shore where he ends up going, dragging his feet, to Nineveh where God wanted him in the first place.  The unexpected happens, the Ninevites heed Jonah’s warning from God and even their animals turn from their evil ways.  God forgives them and lets them live; Jonah sulks.

During the fifty minute teaching I learned two things, or at least things I hadn’t consciously thought about before.

Thing One:

Professing Christians who ignore, or are not aware of, the spiritual turmoil going on around them globally, locally in their communities, personally in their families and friends can be enlikened to Jonah fast asleep in the bowels of the Tarshish-bound ship heedless of the storm raging overhead.


This was so true for me.  I’d throw up my hands in despair and cry,

“What can I do about terrorism?

“How can I stop slave trafficking?

“What is the solution to drug abuse?

“How can I end a war?

“How can I affect the economy?”

I turned a blind eye to social issues too big for my small-self.

For years I ignored the universal chaos; I didn’t relate my action to Jonah napping in the ship’s hold while a storm raged above him…

…until my children began to question the effectiveness of platitudes like,

“Tithing helps the poor,

“Prayer lifts up the hopeless,

“Voting gives you a voice…”

They were looking for immediate results.

I began sitting with them and brainstorming about how to bring these large issues into perspective so we could do something about them:

terrorism could be related to a bully at gymnastics,

slave trafficking could boil down to respecting those who were different standing in line at McDonald’s,

drug abuse could be akin to self-control when it comes to having another soda or handful of M&M’s,

wars could be all about bickering and fighting with siblings or spouses,

economy could relate to our everyday handling of pocket money, the family budget, credit cards.

We discovered there was no longer an excuse to label things as ‘out of our control’.

We began to think more about how we could make a change within our immediate families that would overflow into the community.


We began to talk about growing into responsible adults that may one day be better placed to be the change in their world.

I was teaching mindfulness and plopping current events into our laps to run our fingers through and bring down to our level.

I’d been training my children how not to sleep through storms like Jonah.

Thing Two:

We all have a ship that’s bound for Tarshish.  One we believe God put there.

Wow!  That hit me square between the eyes.

A place I go to instead of where God wants me.

God may ask me to minister to a group of young people who are un-churched and skeptical about the validity of the Word, suspicious of the way churches flaunt and spend their money;

But God may not know I already go to a neighborhood gathering every week with pizza and wine and good company where I can walk the talk about my church, Vacation Bible School, Empty Bowls, the bi-annual peanut butter drive for the community food pantry, the homeless ministry on below zero nights…

The heat of the wood burning oven no match for my zeal as I blow my Christian trumpet and maybe fish a few men.

Sometimes God just doesn’t get the complexities of my super-busy life getting to know my neighbors, becoming part of their lives, believing Hubs and I were led to this lane, this very house, to meet these very people.

Someone else can minister to those young adults who may prove to be hostile, call me old, brush me off as a crazy fundamentalist.

I far prefer my ship to Tarshish than God’s trek to Nineveh.


Remember the threat of drowning in Jonah’s story?

The layover in the whale’s belly?

The prayer,

The long wait,

The eventual vomit?

God got His way in the end and set Jonah down at the starting post pointing to Nineveh.

Truth be known, there’s always a ship in Joppa, apparently God-sent, trimmed and fueled for Tarshish.

Jonah couldn’t escape God’s watchful eye and neither can I.

God will have His way and life will be a whole lot easier if I fall in line and comply.

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