Refusing to Surrender to God’s Destination
No matter my destination, GPS makes my life easier. Since I have no sense of direction, using GPS makes getting somewhere less frustrating. I don’t have to turn around nearly as often. Notice I didn’t say I never have to turn around. Sometimes I miss the street the lady told me to turn because I also struggle with distance. Is this street the one in 250 feet? Or is it the next one? (Now you understand why I taught English and history instead of math.) Patiently, she doesn’t yell but plays a little chord of music and adjusts the directions. No matter how many times I need to make a change, she lets me know the next step. As long as I listen and follow her directions, I get to my destination.
Jonah didn’t need GPS. When God called him to Nineveh, he knew exactly where his destination was and how to get there. While he agreed with God’s assessment of Nineveh’s wickedness, Jonah boarded a boat going in the opposite direction. He planned to go to a city 2000 miles away from Nineveh, as far away as he possibly could. Jonah knew God’s character, His grace and mercy, meant this enemy may not get the punishment she deserved. If Nineveh responded to Jonah’s prophecy of her doom and repented, God would bless Nineveh instead of destroying her.
Unable to bear the thought of Nineveh’s redemption, Jonah tried to escape. He didn’t just ignore God, he brazenly defied Him.
Pursued by God until We Surrender
God wanted Jonah to do this job, so He pursued Jonah. To get his attention, God caused a violent storm that threatened to break up the ship. Even the sailors, used to rough seas, feared for their lives. Amazingly, Jonah, determined to ignore God, slept through the storm. In desperation, the sailors drew lots to see who caused the catastrophe. When they realized it was their passenger, they pulled him out of his bunk and hauled him to the deck to question him.
Jonah, still unwilling to surrender to God’s call, didn’t ask the sailors to turn the boat toward Nineveh. Instead, he told them to throw him overboard. Jonah preferred drowning to surrender.
However, God continued to pursue Jonah. Instead of letting Jonah drown, God sent a huge fish to swallow him. Jonah thought his destination was Tarshish but his actual destination was surrendering to God’s plan.
Lessons from Jonah
1. God pursues us.
He has a plan for our lives. No matter how far we run and try to hide, God never gives up on us. We cannot run away from God (Psalm 139: 7-10)
2. God Uses Storms
If necessary, God causes turbulence in our lives. The things we think we want, bring pain and suffering instead of joy. The storm may not come as quickly as it did for Jonah, but eventually, whenever we ignore God and run the opposite direction, trouble comes. And it doesn’t just affect us. Jonah’s running put all of the men on the boat in danger as well as the people of Nineveh. Our refusal to surrender to God effects in our lives.
3. God Uses People
The sailors didn’t know God, but they knew this was no ordinary storm. They wanted to know who was responsible, and once they did, they confronted Jonah. Seek the wise counsel of others. Listen to the people in your life who know God.
4. God Gives Us Time to Reconsider
Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. Plenty of time to think until he realized he couldn’t run from God. Surrendering was really the only option. In those moments of anxiety, seek God in prayer. Read His Word. Listen to His voice.
When you do, He will answer. His hand will guide you and hold you fast.
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