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12th October 2012
When I was a child, I was told not to say: "I'm sweating." "Animals sweat, gentlemen perspire, ladies glow," they told me. Well, in that context, I've been one of the most glowing Christians in southern France this summer! I was warned about July and August getting unbearable, but I just couldn't believe how stiflingly hot and airless it gets. Not that I'm complaining – as I write I've been back in the UK for three days and shivering with cold at times. I certainly don't miss the English weather!
So I can certainly identify with Jonah as he searched for a spot in the shade (chapter 4). He didn't have the benefit of parasols and other gear we need for the beach, where if you don't provide your own shade there is none and you'll get sunburnt. Nor could he flake out in an air-conditioned room as we can. When Jonah set up his shelter to keep watch on Nineveh, God provided a vine for shade. He took it away again next morning and turned up the temperature of the sun, and it sounds as if poor Jonah got sunstroke as a result and just wanted to die. God used this as an illustration to teach Jonah a lesson and the book ends abruptly.
Minds greater than mine have sought to explain the withering vine, and I won't attempt to! But I want to share something that inspired me in this summer's blistering heat in the centre of Montpellier. A team of teenagers from Newday Global joined us in July to evangelise on the streets. They shared prophetic words, prayed for sick people and broken families, and altogether about 100 meaningful conversations took place in which we shared the gospel, and we've had contact with several of these people since.
These 16-19-year-olds could have been lying on a beach or relaxing in their school/university holidays. But I'm so thankful to God that they heard his call and volunteered to go out in temperatures often around 35 degrees to share the good news about Jesus. They didn't run away from God's call like Jonah did, and they may well have contributed to people finding salvation. But there again, maybe they were like Jonah as – despite his grumbling – he was also used to turn lost souls to God.
Reading: Jonah 4:5-11
Question: How can you make yourself available to be used by God?
Next prayer meetings: Sunday, 7am at THC and 7pm at The George in Rye
Posted by Barbara Veness in Montpellier