So…Here was Jonah, a man chosen by God, minding his own business.
God comes to him and instructs him to go to Nineveh to warn the Ninevites of God’s wrath and pending danger.
Allow me to paint a picture for you…
Jonah was quite comfortable. (We don’t know exactly what he was comfortable with. He could have become so accustomed to his routine , possibly unsatisfied life that there was no need to question his state. ) At any rate, he was comfortable.
ALL OF A SUDDEN, he is given instructions to come out of his comfort zone and do what he was called to do. This would not have been a problem for Jonah, had he been called in an area where he was comfortable (Israel), or with people he was comfortable with (the Israelites).
BUT NOOOOO…..God has to call him to warn and prepare his “enemies” (the Ninevites), the ultimate rival to Israel. Forget the rivalries you may be familiar with; Michigan State vs. Ohio State, USC vs. UCLA, or even the infamous rival between the “Hatfields’ and McCoys'”. THIS rivalry was comparable to North and South Korea! Jonah had been instructed to preach repentance to the Ninevites, his enemies, in order to save them from God’s impending wrath. To share with them what he knew to be true about “His God”, that which the Ninevites were not accustomed to, nor interested in hearing.
So…as typical for one out of obedience, Jonah tries to run away from his responsibility and flee to Tarshish. Mind you, in the opposite direction of Nineveh.
Can you say, “Run, Forest, Run!”?
This chosen detour from his assignment unveils a long and tumultuous journey that would ultimately bring him back to obedience and fulfillment of God’s purpose for his life.
Now, let’s imagine,
here you are, minding your own business, and God is giving you “your” assignment. First, you try to ignore Him, but He keeps nudging you like flies hovering around your food at a picnic table; through thoughts, dreams, people speaking words into your life, and uprooted circumstances.
This call that God has for you is not exactly easy, so you run…sometimes, as Jonah, in the complete opposite direction of the path that will get you to your assigned destination.
Similar to Jonah, you will undoubtedly run into (if you haven’t already) a series of calamities that will uproot your life as you know it. Can I get an Amen?! If God gives you an assignment (and you had better believe He has, otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this), EMBRACE IT!
IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!
Mot importantly, remember that your decision to embrace or not embrace His calling on your life affects more than you. Jonah’s decision to run greatly jeopardized the lives of everyone on that ship he boarded to Tarshish. In his feeble attempt to run from his assignment, innocent lives were at stake. Through God’s mercy, they were spared and Jonah was tossed into the sea (thrown overboard) and experienced the lowest moments of his life, unsure if he would even survive.
Sometimes, we place ourselves in a position so far away from where God wants us, simply out of disobedience and an unwillingness to move out of our comfort zone into the place that will position us to serve God and so many others. By doing this, we jeopardize not only our own lives, as Jonah realized, but innocent lives as well.
IF YOU find it difficult to follow that path that God is calling you to take, ask Him to help you. He will give you the right attitude and the strength (and the courage) to carry it out. If not for you, then for those that will be blessed by your obedience. When you do this, God will respond to you, as He did to Jonah. He will deliver you from that “belly” of despair.
Similar to Jonah’s lesson, sometimes, God has to place us in a position to get our attention. No matter how desperate your situation may seem, know that when you allow Him to be the Head of you life, and no matter what He has called you to do, He will hear your prayers and will help you. At that point, trust that your victory will come, just as it did for Jonah.