Lessons from Jonah…
Whew! I can’t believe the weekend is already over and it’s Monday – where did the time go?? We had a great time at Busch Gardens on Saturday with the Youth and Sunday passed in a blur as we spent time at church and with my in – laws. I feel like I need an extra couple days in my week to get everything accomplished that I need to!
Yesterday morning we heard an awesome sermon about Jonah (you know, Jonah and the whale … VBS type material). It’s caused me to think about how this could apply in my own life. I want to share in hopes that you’ll be as blessed by the lesson I’m being shown as I am!
Obviously most of us know the story … God tells Jonah to go to Ninevah to warn the people there of God’s view of their sin so that they would repent and be saved. Jonah doesn’t want to go because he doesn’t want the wicked people to be saved, so he catches a boat to Tarshish. God sends a storm and the crew of the ship wants Jonah to pray so that GOd will end the storm. Instead, Jonah tells them to throw him overboard because he knows that he’s the problem and God’s angry with him. So they throw in off the boat, a big fish swallows him, he spends three days in the belly of the fish and then gets thrown up. With a reluctant heart he heads off to Ninvah and warns the wicked people. They repent and turn from their ways, yet Jonah is still angry because he didn’t want to go and he thinks they should be destroyed. He’s miserable in the desert and wants to die, but then he sees a vine that will offer him shade. He’s thrilled! He sits down under the vine and rests in the shade until God sends a worm to eat up the vine and it shrivels. Jonah is angry again and complains to God about how terrible it is that he destroyed the vine. Basically God says “Do you have any right to be mad at me???” We never see what happens with Jonah after that.
One thing that struck me in the sermon I heard was that maybe God does “force” us to do His will sometimes. Have you ever heard the phrase “God is a perfect gentleman and He never forces Himself on anyone” ? But, it sure seems like that’s what He did to Jonah. He sent an awful storm and then had him swallowed by a whale… hmmmm… I think I’d obey right about then!
Have you ever said no to God? I have. I’ve said no when life didn’t turn out just as I wanted it. I’ve told him that this wasn’t what I planned on and I do not want to live this life – I’d like the one I planned, and would He please just cooperate, thank you very much! Wow… what arrogance! I sometimes think that I know better than God what would be good for me. Who am I to think that? Who was Jonah to think that he knew better than God what should happen to the folks in Ninevah? An arrogant little nobody! It’s sobering.
What happens when we say no to God? Well, I’ve never been on a boat in a storm, thrown overboard and swallowed by a fish. I’m going to guess that you haven’t either. But, I have had a season of extrememe depression. I’ve experienced discontent in life because I was fighting God’s will. Worse, I’ve missed out on some amazing things God planned for me. I don’t even know what they were, but I know I would have been blessed if I had just been obedient.
It’s a heart issue too. We can’t just be obedient on the outside. Jonah eventually did go to Ninevah, but he still wasn’t happy about it. God was still displeased with Jonah because his heart wasn’t in harmony with God’s plan. We can’t just obey on the outside and grumble on the inside. Changing our hearts is extrememly difficult. It requires total submission to God and LOTS of prayer. It’s so worth it though — it means deeper relationship with our Father. It means a life lived to the fullest of God’s plan. And it just might mean avoiding being digested by a sea creature!
Let’s stop saying no to God and get our hearts alligned with His!!
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