The book of Jonah is one that I read through often. There’s just something about Jonah’s story that connects with me. I can relate to the fact that he responds with knee-jerk reactions and makes extreme choices based on his own feelings and judgments. There’s no middle ground for Jonah, he’s either all-in or all-out. A whole lot like me.
I really want to serve God with my life, but there’s a part of me that feels that I should also agree with whatever it is that God is asking me to do on a daily basis. I don’t mind being gently prompted, or encouraged, but there’s just something about the word “commanded” that bothers me. Especially if I’m being led to do something I really don’t want to do.
How easy would it have been for me to be in Jonah’s place?
God clearly called Jonah to a specific task he didn’t want to do, so he rebelled and ran away, trying to hide from God.
The LORD spoke his word to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up, go to the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it, because I see the evil things they do.” But Jonah got up to run away from the LORD by going to Tarshish. He went to the city of Joppa, where he found a ship that was going to the city of Tarshish. Jonah paid for the trip and went aboard, planning to go to Tarshish to run away from the LORD.
I can relate to Jonah in this situation a little bit, but to run away from God seems pointless to me. I’d NEVER do that. I KNOW that it’s ridiculous to try and run away from God.
What I WOULD do is justify not following God’s plan by coming up with an even more awesome plan that would “fit” me a lot better. My plan wouldn’t embarrass me, take up too much of my time or make me uncomfortable. It wouldn’t make me unpopular or make me look like a fanatical Christian. My plan would get the job done, and include only the people that I feel like involving. I would be able to complete it, check it off my list and celebrate it at church this weekend. And everyone would applaud my sacrifice and service to God…
The truth is that there have been times in my life that I’ve been exactly like Jonah, and if you’ve ever replaced God’s plan with your own, you have too. Some of us actively ignore what the Lord is calling us to do, while others of us haven’t spoken to the Lord in such a long time that we wouldn’t have any idea what He’s saying in the first place.
Are you running from the Lord today? What part of God’s call has you terrified and paralyzed? Ephesians 2:10 says, that God has planned in advance the good works that we are to live out our lives doing. There is nothing out there that will give our lives a greater purpose and significance than to follow God’s will!
Are your plans fulfilling His great purpose? We have been called to mirror Christ in our lives, and to be a light in the darkness. You may not be called to go to Outer Mongolia or preach from the pulpit in a church; but are you living out His purpose in your life and growing in spiritual maturity every day?
If you haven’t been answering His call, I encourage you to do it today. Trust God’s promise to be with you and to lead you and don’t be afraid to go to Nineveh.
It’s a whole lot better than being swallowed by a fish.