Thursday, November 7, 2013

What Are You Running From?

As a young child I was taught the Biblical story of Jonah in Sunday school--of how a giant whale swallowed Jonah and spit him out after three days.  Can you imagine spending three days in the belly of a whale?  I can’t.  I also can’t imagine living in utter darkness—thus the reason for my blog.

As the story goes, Jonah was a man whom God instructed to: “Arise, go to Nineveh, the great city and cry out against it; for their wickedness had come up before the Lord.  But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.  He went down to Joppa, found a ship going to Tarshish; paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” (Jonah 1:1-3) NKJV

Jonah was called to deliver the word of the Lord to the wicked people of Nineveh.  However, Jonah rejected God's call, he didn't want God to forgive them—he wanted God to judge them.  So rather than argue, he ran in the opposite direction; thereby saying “no” to God.  Can one man’s “no” circumvent the eternal plan of God?  God’s concern for all mankind and His reluctance to leave a servant in dejection and misery brought about by his disobedience is played out in this story. 

Has God ever called you to a specific person/s and for a moment you preferred God’s judgment for their wickedness rather than His forgiveness and salvation?  I don’t know about you, but if we’re being completely honest, I believe many of us have just by our inaction.   

Notice the scripture says Jonah fled from the presence of the Lord—not Nineveh.  It also says he found a ship going to Tarshish.  He might have said, “Well, if I’m not supposed to go to Tarshish, there won’t be a ship leaving today”—sort of a fleece to satisfy his human desire and justify his disobedience.  I know you’ve never done that…  A little word of advice, the enemy of our soul will always provide a way out if we're running from the presence of the Lord.  And forgive me for spiritualizing this, but it also says he paid the fare to get on the ship.  Make no mistake—we will always “pay the fare” when we’re running from something. 

Not long after they set sail, the Lord sent a tempest wind upon the sea to awaken Jonah; as he had gone to the lower part of the ship to sleep.  Again I’ll take the liberty of spiritualizing this scripture.  When running from something—is it possible we enter into a lower form of Christianity and fall asleep? And while we’re sleeping, others are being tossed around by the world looking for an answer to their storms.

As the tempest grew stronger and stronger, the mariners said to themselves, “For whose cause has this trouble come upon us.”  So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.  In fear, the Captain came to Jonah and said, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.”  What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?”  (Jonah 1:6-8) NKJV

Jonah immediately tells them, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” (Jonah 1:9) NKJV   There are four reasons in my opinion God called Jonah to preach to Nineveh; one, because he was available, two, because he knew God’s voice, three, because he was fallible and four, because he feared the Lord.  It's also the reason He calls us.  Jonah's confession rescued those on the ship from a physical death, and those in Nineveh from a spiritual death.

To calm the storm and save the ship, they would have to throw Jonah overboard—where an unknown fate awaited him—one he never imagined.  You would think after Jonah’s confession and repentance the Lord would have supernaturally delivered him to Nineveh.  However, he still had to pay the fare.”  Unfortunately, Jonah’s former decision came with consequences.  After being thrown into the sea, the greatest natural baptismal there is, the Lord prepared a big fish to swallow him—where he remained for three days and three nights.  After which, he was spit out on dry land to begin his long journey to Nineveh—where he did deliver God's word, and they did turn from their wicked ways.

Today I posted a trailer on Facebook called “God’s Not Dead.”  After watching it, I cried.  Why?  Because so many people in the world are lost or blatantly deny God’s existence.  God has commissioned each of us to reach the lost—wicked or not.  Hopefully, no matter who they are or what we think of them, we will answer the call to seek and save the lost.  Saying “no” comes with a great price, as we’ve learned from Jonah.  Who has God called you to?  What are you running from?

I have become all things to all men that I might by all means save some. (1 Corn. 9:22b) NKJV

Daina House




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