Is the “Final Sign” Also Called the “Sign Of Jonah”?
THE SIGN OF JONAH: “Twentieth Century Parable of an Unwilling Servant “Jonah: A Defensive Prophet Experiences God’s Love” By Patricia O. Nakama. Jan. 25, 2019.”
PAT ONO: I can recall vividly being contacted by the Chairperson/Producer of the University of Hawaii’s Kapalapala Beauty Pageant in 1960. At 19 years old, I graciously promised her that I would return her call after I prayed about “becoming a contestant in this pageant.”
(In my heart, I was SURE the LORD would say, “No.”) After all, hadn’t He asked me to “wash off” all makeup several weeks before? As a part-time sales clerk, I attended makeup classes held by Revlon and DuBerry companies. I learned to apply make-up from professionals in the industry. This gave me a knowledgeable base of the products sold in the store.
I hung up the phone, got on my knees, and asked, “Lord, what do you want me to tell her? Do you want me to enter this beauty pageant?”
The answer came quickly, “Yes.”
My reaction: “Oh, no, LORD…no, no, no! I can’t. I am nothing (just plain) compared to other girls. Please…say ‘no.’” (No response from LORD.) I wept bitterly with visions of people whispering and laughing at me (for presumptuously entering this contest)…I was certainly no beauty.
Finally, I addressed the LORD. “Okay, LORD, I will do this ONLY for You. Be aware that I will be the “ugliest, most shameful person” on stage, but for You, I will bear the ridicule.” (More sobbing.)
My Aunt Loretta was sitting in the “family of contestants” section on final night at the Waikiki Shell. She told me (later) that when I appeared, a young girl sitting behind her excitedly told her mom, “Mom! Mom! She is so beautiful! I want her to win!”
As soon as I stepped out onto stage, a powerful (like “chicken skin”) feeling encompassed me. I recognized the “Presence” of the Holy Spirit.
The honor I won that night was a gift from my Heavenly Father. His “Presence” over me was the “beauty” that the audience and judges saw.
Today, I recognize this familiar feeling as “GOD’s Love.” When He is pleased (within my prayerful words, or Christ-like interaction with others, or thoughtful decisions) His loving response is to “hug/love me.” Within the moment, I feel His “Presence/Anointing.” It never fails to bring forth tears of gratitude… for truly, it is beyond my comprehension that the Supreme God “should love a (unworthy) sinner such as I…” and “change my sorrow into bliss.”
Therefore, like Jonah, I rebelled at His request to become a beauty pageant contestant. But, through this experience, I learned two lessons: First, when the Lord commissions a person to do a job (like Jonah), His Presence/Anointing is with that person throughout the journey. My weaknesses (erroneous perceptions) will be conformed through His Power and Presence (God-like perceptions). Our whole being is transformed during the journey, so that the Holy Spirit is able to use our whole being as “instruments of peace” even to a “wicked, evil” nation like Nineveh.
The second lesson I learned was to “pray without ceasing.” There is no way I could have won that contest without a “conscious daily contact” with the LORD. At 19, I only talked to the LORD on my knees beside my bed–morning and evening–and when I was in worship/prayer services. Therefore, in the middle of the pageant journey, I became overwhelmed by a 35-hour part time job, a fulltime student at UH–studying into the wee hours of the morning, attending pageant activities on the weekends, and barely staying awake during Sunday and Wednesday evening services. This schedule consumed my life and my prayer time at my bedside became short and mundane. Soon, weariness took over and prayer time slipped away.
 Hymn Text written by C. Bishop [©1929]. Text found in “Such Love” and “Blessed Assurance,” accessed on February 19, 2019, https://hymnary.org/text/that_god_should_love_a_sinner_such_as_i.
Two weeks before the finals, I was dressing for a Pageant “Tea Party” activity on a Saturday morning, the Holy Spirit spoke, “Pat, you haven’t spent time with me.” This was the third morning reminder I was receiving.
My response: “Oh, LORD, I am so very sorry… Please forgive me. I will surely spend time with you tonight.” (I hadn’t kept my word twice before.) A few moments after I spoke the same regretful words (third time), I felt like someone pulled off a “warm covering” from me. I perceived the Holy Spirit exiting…. I felt a “cold north wind” blow through me. I was all alone.
Realizing and feeling the coldness of “a life without God,” I burst into tears and ran to my bedside, repenting of my sin. The Pageant had become an idol in my life. My actions and words proved it was more important to fulfill its requirements than to spend time with the LORD.
Long story short, I skipped the Pageant activity. I fasted and prayed in my bedroom all day… weeping profusely over His “lost love.” Eight hours later, at 4 PM, the Spirit returned. I cried in gratitude for His mercy on me. I vowed never to cease in my daily prayers. That is when I received an understanding that I can talk with Him any time in my thoughts, not just at my bedside. What an enlightening Word (1 Thessalonians 5:17 and 5:16-22) I received from Him that day!
I also wanted to give up the Pageant, but the LORD said, “No, you must follow through on this commitment. I will be with you and still bless you.”
Result: “The two top contenders of each section had to make a second appearance on stage. (I didn’t know about this.) When my name was called, “I walked out on stage like the first time, but His Presence was not felt over me like my first appearance on stage. Thus, I won second place as Miss Cosmopolitan.
Today, almost 70 years later, I perceive that had I not repented, I would have gone on a free trip to New York and ran for the Miss Rhinegold Contest. While asking God what I should do—go or not go– I had a dream. In my dream, I was sitting on a high stool near a bar and smoking a cigarette. (ugh!)
Thereafter, I made a long-distance phone call to my mother, asking for her advice. Her perception after hearing the dream was that my dream was probably a warning that depicted my future life, if I did represent University of Hawaii in New York. I chose not to go (much to the chagrin of the pageant sponsors). The girl who won the Miss Cosmopolitan title returned with a $500 check. She was one of the top contenders. Much later, I found out that the contest was sponsored by Rhinegold Cigarettes.
I have learned through my life’s journey that in order to have “the strength and power of the Lord over me,” I had to literally “walk circumspectly” (Eph. 5:15), as well as “rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for (me) in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:26-18).
Most imperatively, I should never “reject/disobey” the Spirit of God’s suggestions/ requests/ commission (as in Jonah’s case), as well as “warnings” in my thought life:
19 Do not quench the Spirit;
20 do not despise prophetic [l]utterances.
21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;
22 abstain from every form of evil.—1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 (NASB)
Therefore, I am daily aware of Peter’s warning:
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert (vigilant). Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.—1 Peter 5:8 (NASB)