A Jonah Story

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Guest Post by Kelly Heuer

Have you ever been told that some things happen because you didn’t pray hard enough? Your parents got a divorce; it was because you didn’t pray enough. You discovered that your son has a drug addiction; you didn’t pray hard enough. Maybe your brother went to prison; it was most definitely because you didn’t pray hard enough. We all know that we could have done something to stop this. It was in our hands to do something about it, and we dropped the ball.

What could we have really done? How could we have changed what happened? I know! We could have loved them more, or better, or more obviously, or, or, or… There’s always something we could have done, right? Sure there is, if you own a time machine and you’re a super hero. At least there is something you can do if you remove free will.

In Sunday School I learned about Jonah. The way it was always told, Jonah was disobedient at first and then he obeyed and everything was wonderful. The Ninevites were saved. Everybody lived happily ever after. Unfortunately, the story of Jonah is left at that and some deeper elements are very rarely brought out. Jonah’s free will, for example. He was told to go, he exercised his ability to say no and, in fact, to run away. We all know the part where Jonah gets on a ship heading the opposite direction, God rolls his eyes and says, “You’re cute, Jonah, but you can’t outrun me,” and has Jonah thrown overboard into the conveniently waiting whale’s mouth. After that, Jonah went and did what he was told to do; but, if you look at the very end of the story, you see Jonah whining again.

The story of Jonah reminds me of the little boy who got sent to sit in the corner for being obstinate. After the boy had been in the corner for a bit, his mother checked on him and discovered that the contrary behavior was continuing. “Son, I told you to sit in the corner. Now put your bottom on the floor and obey me or you will stay there for 10 more minutes!” The not-precious-at-the-moment boy plops his behind on the floor, glares at his mother and announces, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside!”

In the end, Jonah physically did what God told him to do. Spiritually and emotionally, he was just as disobedient as the moment he stepped foot on the boat to run away. It’s that way with our loved ones. We hope, time and again, that we will pray harder next time, maybe we’ll even vow to start praying harder now. We heap the arrogant guilt of not doing/being/loving enough on our own heads. Even if we could change the behaviors, they might sit down on the outside, but they would stand on the inside.

It all feels hopeless. You mean I can’t pray hard enough? No, you cannot. The good news is that we were promised that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us according to God’s will. That intercession allows us to let go and know that the God who promised we need not fear because he is with us, really is in charge.

It’s not yours to fix.


Kelly Heuer resides in Idaho and asserts that she is foremost a wife to her best friend and hero. Five children (plus a few extras) call her Mami, and she considers being a wife and mother to be her most important job and ministry. She is her church’s Music/AV Coordinator and serves as a song leader among other roles as needed. A missionary kid, Kelly lived in the Dominican Republic for 14 years learning to read and translate legal documents in both Spanish and English. She says one of the most important revelations of her time there was learning the value of writing in alleviating the pain of both internal and external struggles. She says while others might describe her as a survivor, she calls herself a fighter, a thriver, a winner. Kelly’s heart is to help women worldwide to go beyond survival and be freed to never again fear enslavement.

Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)

3 thoughts on “A Jonah Story

    • Thanks, Michelle. I try to say things in writing the way I would say them when speaking. Half the time I end up wishing y’all could see my facial expressions though. 😀

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