Big Fish…Big Attitude – Jonah’s Long Walk

The Lord’s word came to Jonah a second time: “Get up and go to Nineveh, that great city, and declare against it the proclamation that I am commanding you.” And Jonah got up and went to Nineveh, according to the Lord’s word. (Now Nineveh was indeed an enormous city, a three days’ walk across.) (Jonah 3:1-3, Common English Bible).

I have either lived in Houston, a suburb of Houston, or close to Houston most of my life. Houston is a big city. It is the fourth largest city in the country by population but it is the ninth largest by land area. After doing some research I found that Houston is about 50 miles across.

Ninevah, in Jonah’s day, would most likely have been about 60 miles wide. All the Book of Jonah tells us is that it was a three-day journey across Ninevah. In the Biblical era, a day’s journey was generally considered to be about 20 miles.

According to the website, today a person, walking four miles per hour, on a seven and a half hour day would cover about 30 miles a day. That would mean you could walk across Houston in a day and about two thirds.

As we have already said, the distance across Ninevah would be about sixty miles. Using today’s pace, it would take about two days to cover the same distance.

Personally, I can’t imagine walking across Houston, no matter how many days it might take. Additionally, we would be walking on paved streets or sidewalks if we walked across Houston. Walking across Ninevah would, at least for the most part, been walking on dirt. It might be easier on the knees, but it would probably take longer. That might be why they covered 20 miles a day and we can cover 30.

To carry this thought one step further, if you figure Ninevah was 6o miles wide and 60 miles tall, that would be 3600 square miles God expected Jonah to carry this message. You are not going to cover that in three days. If I didn’t know better, I would say, “No wonder Jonah didn’t want to go to Ninevah.

When Jonah finally decided to follow God’s instructions, he didn’t expect it to be an easy task. The mileage alone would make this task difficult. I would not be easy to cover that number of miles in a car, much less on foot. Yet, Jonah went about doing exactly as God instructed. He probably did because of all he had been through. He might have even thought to himself, “If I don’t do this, what else could the Lord do to me?”

When God calls us to some kind of work, God never says it will be easy. God only expected Jonah to be obedient, regardless of the difficulty. It just took some extreme measures to get him there.

God asks the sane of us. What might God have to do in order to get you to be obedient? Chances are pretty good you might not find yourself in a giant fish belly but God does have other ways to dish out extreme treatment.

At some point, God calls us all. When God does make that call, will it require the extreme or will you be ready to make your way across Houston (as it were)?

Have a great day in the Lord.

Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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