My wife and I have a chicken coop, and I have noticed something interesting about the birds. They are curious creatures. They will boldly run up to see what I have in my hand. However, if I reach out to pick them up, they will cower like…chickens. They squat, spread their wings, and physically tremble (as if I was going to grab them, wring their neck, and eat them or something).
I am like a chicken. There are certain things I can boldly do, but the moment God’s hand comes upon me to witness to someone, I tremble. Like Jonah, I want to flee from the presence of the Lord. What stops me from running is a mixture of compassion for the unsaved and a fear of God. How could I not obey Almighty God when He has commanded me to speak to the lost? How could I say, “World, go to Hell; I couldn’t care less”?
Notice what happened when Jonah ran from the presence of the Lord. God sent a great storm, and Jonah ended up being swallowed by a big fish. So I have a choice. I can disobey God and have Him chasten me with some sort of storm (Hebrews 12:5,6 says He chastens those He loves), something I know from experience is not at all pleasant. Or I can obey Him and have the joy of doing what pleases Him. I choose the latter, and I far prefer the joy of the Lord to feeling down in the mouth.
Our responsibility is not only to preach the gospel, but to make sure the message we share is the one God gave us. “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you’” (Jonah 3:1,2).