Destination Surrender: Lessons from Jonah, Part One

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.

I may share with:

Inspire Me Monday, Blessed (but Stressed), Moments of Hope, Glimpses of Beauty, LLML Link-up, Trekking Thru, #tellhisstory, Tea and Word Tuesday, Ra-Ra Link-up, Writer Wednesday, Woman to Woman, Porch Stories, Coffee for Your Heart, Dream Together, Chasing Community, Heart Encouragement, Tune-in Thursday, Salt and Light, Quietly Through Thursday, Thankful and Grateful Thursday, Grace and Truth, Faith on Fire, Fresh Market Friday, Counting My Blessings, Sunday Thoughts, Spiritual Sundays, Sunday Scripture Blessing.


Author: Debbie Putman

I am a child of God, seeking to trust Him in every joy and sorrow. Sharing my walk is my husband, Van. God blessed me with two beautiful daughters and three delightful grandchildren. I teach seventh grade English and History, love to read and bake cookies, watch the birds in my backyard, and the ocean.

27 thoughts on “Destination Surrender: Lessons from Jonah, Part One”

  1. Debbie, Your post started my day out right. What a reminder of what an awesome God we have. He will not leave us on our own. He will keep pursuing us even when we go in the wrong direction. Have a blessed day. Maree

    1. Tami, thanks for hosting Literacy Musings. Surrender is never easy; it’s a battle. But I pray I let God win this year.

  2. It’s true that we can never hide nor run from God.
    I surrender to His total will this year and I pray that I will be sensitive to Hear Him.
    I love Psalm 139.

  3. Deb, so much richness in the lessons of Jonah. I ran a several day lesson from Jonah in my devotional, A Pruned Branch. You’ve tickled my ‘want-to’ and must go re-read the book!!! Thanks so much friend.

    1. I chose surrender because as I stared at my new 2018 calendar I realized I couldn’t surrender the year to Him once; it had to be continuous, day-by-day and moment-by-moment.

  4. Hey Debbie! Thank you so much for the reminders on how God is so patient and gracious when He calls us to Himself and to His plans. I ended up next to you at Jennifer’s “Tell His Story” today!

  5. Jonah has so much to teach us! I wrote a poem once called ‘Jonah Jive’ when I was studying the book of Jonah. When I’m feeling cranky with God’s direction, all I need to do is reread Jonah’s story!

  6. There are so many great lessons from Jonah’s story! And I love that, like the GPS, God doesn’t give up on us when we go the wrong way, but he continues to lead us to get us back on track, as long as at some point we surrender and follow his directions.

  7. I saw we had the same word for the year and I am excited to see how God steers you on this journey throughout the year. Your thoughts about Jonah are great. God does pursue us relentlessly and in the process we can keep running or surrender to Him.

    I’m excited to be on this journey with you this year. God is going to teach us so much.

    1. Mary, I look forward to seeing how God uses surrender in our lives. Our journeys and lessons will be different, and I hope to learn from your journey as well as my own.

    1. I agree, Sarah. God is gracious to give us time to reconsider. He longs for us to delight in Him so He can give us the desire of our heart. Praising Him right along with you that He pursues us despite our wandering.

  8. Even though I’ve read this story over and over again, I was stopped in my tracks by your insight, “If necessary, God causes turbulence in our lives. The things we think we want, bring pain and suffering instead of joy.” It made me realize that when storms come into our lives, I need to reflect and reassess whether those storms are an indication that I am not in God’s will. This is so profound!

    Thank you so much for sharing and giving me my first “Ahh Haaa” moment of 2018!


    1. Karen, please remember the turbulence in our lives isn’t always caused because we need to surrender. It is important to do what you said and reflect and reassess. Often we’re caught in the wake of a storm in someone else’s life, like the sailors. We definitely need to reflect and see if there are changes we need to make to surrender to God. Praying you have many “Ahh Haaa” moments as you surrender to Him in 2018.

  9. Oh Deb, what would we ever do without our GPS (God Positioning System)? Actively seeking His whispers when we are making decisions, does place us in a place of “letting go” our fears of unknowns, anxieties of things we do know. Relying then on the peaceful space provided by our surrendered heart is a learned journey of stops and starts. Oh, what freedom this confident space brings me! You are a great story teller!!

Thank you for joining me on my journey with God in uncharted water. Please let me know how He is working in your life.