So many times in my life, I ran. I ran away from responsibility. I ran away from injustice. I ran away from drugs. I ran away from treatment centers. I ran away out of fear. I ran away because of doubt. I failed to see the truth nor did I want to. I ran away from myself. And it was tiresome. Every single time I ran away, I honestly believed I was running toward something. Even after finding Christ, I would run away from His will and into my own will and lose myself anyway, even before I came to the understanding that I was lost. I would be so stuck in myself and my desire to see change that I would completely forget where I came from. Here is the thing…my past can rob me silly of all things good if I allow it to. IF I ALLOW IT TO. Who I once was and who I could easily become again lies just beyond the line in the sand which is the blood line of Jesus. It’s so close I can feel it and touch it, if I make a conscience effort to do so. Being inside the will of God is a blessing, but so many times I have spoken that I was in the will of God when I really wasn’t. I was just pretending to mask what was really going on.
Jonah was given a task.
Jonah 1:1-3 (NIV)- The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.
Sometimes it’s just too hard and the task seems silly and mundane, but God calls us into obedience. I was sharing with someone last night that God blesses us when we give $1 to the offering plate. He blesses us when we say a word from the Lord to someone that really gets on our nerves. He blesses us if we fast for even one measly day. So can you imagine the blessings that will come from our obedience in the things that hurt like the dickens and seem to go on forever?
Jonah was thrown overboard, as he should have been for his disobedience and unwillingness to see the truth about why calamity was coming his way. He failed to do the one thing required, take complete and full responsibility in humility. In fact, he ASKED to be thrown overboard and would have rather died than stay in the will of God. He knew it was his fault, but he still refused to repent. He refused to see the true error of his ways.
Jonah 3:1-5 (NIV) – Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” 3 Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. 4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
Now, here is where it gets tricky. Jonah could have blocked out the voice of God and still gone his own way. He could have ignored it completely and made up his own version of what God really desired to see him do and run straight away to that, but he didn’t. Jonah obeyed. Jonah obeyed only because while in the belly of the fish, he repented. He fully and completely surrendered to God’s will for his life, regardless of the circumstances that lie ahead. He took massive action to make things right and God spared him. Did you notice that after all that, Jonah spoke only 8 words to the city of Nineveh? All God asked him to do was speak 8 words. That’s all. I spent years running away from simple tasks because I refused to see myself as the problem.
Here is where I have to laugh because it is so familiar to me. Jonah throws a fit worthy of a two year old temper tantrum.
Jonah 4:3-10 (NIV) – Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?” 5 Jonah had gone 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 leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant 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, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” “It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.” 10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight.
How many times would I seethe because I wasn’t getting my own way when all I should have done in the first place was listen? All I had to do was listen and look at myself. Jonah said he would rather die 4 times in this book. It is so easy to give up when the going gets tough, but then what about the people that could have been reached and brought into the Light of Truth if only you had submitted to doing the one easy thing God asked you to do? What about them? It’s not all about me. My decisions today have the potential to affect thousands that could have been reached by the Word of God and my testimony, if I only repent and obey. If only…
That is the most humbling concept. God blessed Jonah and provided for him, even following his blatant disregard, but Jonah was still unhappy and bitter. How long are you going to remain miserable? The answer is easy…run toward God and not away, no matter how hard it is or how much you feel that your way is right. No matter the cost and despite your current circumstances, stop running.
Humility and trust unite by saying, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” Do you trust God enough?