I went to the top of Mt. Helix for the first time this morning. In all the years we’ve lived in San Diego, I have never been to the top of Mt. Helix. It offers a great view; unfortunately it was overcast and the view was somewhat obscured. I enjoy spending time at high altitudes because it helps give perspective. I decided to reread Acts 17 because it deals with how Paul adjusted his approach to reach the most people with the message of Jesus. But I kept going and I’m glad I did. There on top of Mt. Helix, with a view that encompassed hundreds of thousands of people, I read these words: “One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.‘ So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God. ” (Acts 18:9-11).
As I looked out over San Diego, those words spoke to me. They reminded me that there are thousands upon thousands of people yet to restore friendship with God. They reminded me to keep on speaking, to keep on creating.
As I contemplated these words I was reminded of the story of Jonah. God wanted to send him to Ninevah, to warn the city and call it to repentance — Jonah ran away instead. That act of disobedience lead to a bit of rough sailing.
Jonah eventually goes to Ninevah and the city breaks out in revival. But the book ends with Jonah still stewing over God’s decision to offer mercy to such a wicked city. Here’s how God teaches Jonah (and us) a great lesson:
1 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
4 But the LORD replied, “Have you any right to be angry?”
5 Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”
9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?” “I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die.”
10 But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?“
— Jonah 4
God is still concerned with great cities and San Diego definitely qualifies as a great city.
From the top of Mt. Helix I could see LifePoint becoming a regional-impact church, one that seeks to impact not just one neighborhood but many. Not just Mission Valley but by helping out downtown, in East County, South Bay, and elsewhere across the county.
May God speed that day!