Clinging to Worthless Idols

I have read the Bible for most of my literate life, so I am sure I’ve read this verse before, but the other day¬† it struck me with new impact.(Isn’t it amazing how God’s Word can do that!? Feel new, and fresh, offering new insight and challenge each time we pick it up.) Jonah 2:8 “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”

Jonah is kind of infamous as an Old Testament prophet. Did he ever find himself in a tough spot after refusing to obey God’s call. Being tossed overboard in the middle of a storm on the high seas, had to be a low point for Jonah. I am sure he expected death. Can you believe that God’s rescue, His grace showed up in the form of a giant fish who rescued Jonah from certain death? Again, a reminder that God’s ways are most certainly not our ways.

I am tempted to think that Jonah would have preferred death, considering the end of the story. But Jonah’s prayer in the middle of his three day stint in a whale of a jail, clearly suggests otherwise. Jonah cries out to God, and thanks him for rescuing him just as his life was ebbing away. It is in this prayer that Jonah says clinging to worthless idols results in a forfeiture of grace. He would know. He had tried it!

Having found the worthless idol of selfish ambition powerless to save him, Jonah cried out to God, and in His grace, God sent salvation. Jonah acknowledged this, “But I will offer sacrifices with songs of praise…for my salvation comes from the Lord alone.”

Of course, at this point Jonah was willing to obey God and go to the Ninevites but he had no idea that God was about to extend the same kind of grace to them, when they chose to turn away from worthless idols! Isn’t that so like us. We are grateful and full of worship when God extends mercy and grace to us. But we are horrified at the “miscarriage of justice” when his grace is extended to someone we deem less worthy.

Jonah’s story challenges me on so many levels. Do I cling to worthless idols and forfeit God’s grace in the process? Do I expect God’s grace in my life, and yet deny it to others? Do I order God to exhibit His grace according to my standards? Oh, many times the answers to all those questions is yes! I do cling to the idol of self-sufficiency, and turn away from the mercy of God! And even though I know His grace is unmerited, I still find myself more deserving of it than others! How does that compute?

In spite of myself God shows up and with gentle hands pries my clinging fingers from the worthless idols that would keep me from knowing His grace. Like Jonah’s case, sometimes God’s grace shows up in unimaginable ways. But oh how precious is that grace, even in the form of a giant fish in a stormy sea.

2 Responses to "Clinging to Worthless Idols"

  • I really appreciate this post, Tabitha! Good thoughts to ponder!

    1 Cindy said this (December 9, 2011 at 11:01 am) Reply

  • Profound and pertinent! Can I post this on my blog?
    Chrtismas Blessings to you and yours.

    2 Jessica said this (December 12, 2011 at 10:43 am) Reply

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