Will you turn to The Book of Jonah since I am going to reveal to you a startling comparison I thought I would never make, and maybe you to after I get finished. In the first few verses of chapter 1, the minor prophet Jonah is instructed by the Lord that he is to go to Ninevah, Assyria. Although there is plenty of speculation out there, Scripture tells us nothing about what happened before or after this incident involving the capital of Assyria.
Now the Word of the Lord came to Jonah, son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Ninevah, the great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before Me. But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go down with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord. (Jonah 1:1-2 ESV)
Jonah knew the forgiving redemption of the Lord towards His own people, Israel. But the chance the Lord could offer His forgiving power to anyone else, especially Ninevah was beyond him, so he high-tailed it out of there, going in the total opposite direction of where Jonah should have been headed. Yet, didn’t Jonah already know this by several examples in the past? I am going to say he did; however, his hatred for the Assyrian Empire, especially the great city of Ninevah, overtook him. Jonah wanted to make it evidently clear to the Lord that he did not want the Lord’s forgiving power to rest on anyone else but his people of Israel.
So Jonah paid the fare and headed off in a ship to Tarshish. Yet despite the fact that Jonah was running from the Lord, the crew must have thought that the God of Israel is just like any other gods containing no real power as the gods that the crew worshipped, for they knew not the power the God of Israel had to control the sea. However, Jonah knew better as I am sure your conscience, that little innate voice that guides your every action, was on overdrive when you have done something wrong, was raging inside of him. Well, just because Jonah is a prophet doesn’t make him any less sinful since whatever does not proceed from faith is sin (Romans 14:23b).
The Lord caused a storm that surrounded that ship that Jonah was on. Eventually, the crew must have heaved valuable dining wear, expensive clothes and jewelry then came the small cargo, and then large. Yet the storm was getting worse as no relief was in sight until the crew woke up Jonah from a deep sleep in the belly of that ship. The crew did not know the power that the Almighty God that Jonah served could cause such a disaster, but Jonah knew. So, Jonah proposed if the crew threw him into the depths of the sea, the ship would be saved and instantly the storm would pass. As they were throwing Jonah overboard, amazement took over their faces as the sea instantly became as peaceful as a pond without even a hint of a wake. (Jonah 1:3-15)
Ultimately, you may be refusing to do God’s will by your lack of confidence you have in yourself. I deal with that all of the time because of my almost death-inducing car accident. But you find yourself refusing to do what the Lord has asked you to do simply because you’re too scared.
As Jonah was trying to distance himself from going to do what the Lord wanted, the Lord has a way of making His words come true. Even though I was the opposite in distancing myself from the Lord, I still have confidence problems in determining God’s will. However, I thrive on doing what would be considered daring. I have always been that way, so it hit me like a ton of bricks when God made it evidently clear that I was like the prophet Jonah, being buried under the sea by a big fish for 3 days only to be vomited out from deep within that monstrous fish.
Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. From inside the fish, Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: ” In my distress, I called to the Lord, and He answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead, I called for help, and You listened to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all Your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from Your sight, yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threated me, the deep surrounded me; the seaweed wrapped around my head. … “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to You. What I have vowed, I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’ ” And the Lord commanded the fish, and the fish vomited Jonah out onto dry land (Jonah 1:17-2:10 ESV).
Professional writing was something that I struggle with causing me to be reluctant to accept the gift that God has blessed me with. I saw this gift as something only for the professional writers. Still, confusion is ever present; confusion in my own mind that causes me to doubt my own ability. God has made it evidently clear that writing God’s story through my life is what He requires me to do. Dr. Dan Allender has written a book, “To Be Told.” The concluding message of that book says, “Not to care about what other people think and begin writing to fulfill God’s desire for your life.” Yet, I do care. Like most True Life Christians, I want the story of my life to be perfect. To show how by accepting God, He will make your life “perfect.” However, God ways are not humanity’s ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Perfection is a doubled-edge sword; yet the Lord commands His people to be perfect (Matthew 5:48), which humans can never achieve. Only through the Holy Spirit who lives inside of us who accept what Jesus Christ has done for the salvation of the world (John 3:16-21). It is through this financially free gift which He has given all of humanity. It is through the perfection of Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit living within every True Life Christian that He expects us to operate. And that is where I fail. In my case, it is a failure to write my story because I don’t think I have what it takes. Maybe you too, although you think that God has not gifted you in whatever you are most scared of?
After my recent issue in the hospital, this is the 2nd time in which I almost died, I got my direct orders from God to write a book about my life. This is a call to action-definetly me, and maybe you. Don’t let a great fish vomit you out before you are willing to accept God’s unusual calling on your life. This is part of my story. Look for my book called, “Different.” I plan on posting a quote once or twice a week with my Biblical blog thoughts coming once or twice a month until I finish with my book, Different.
Have you got anything in your life that God is convicting you of that you don’t think you have the ability to do through God? Don’t let you be figuratively vomited out by a monstrous fish rule your life, and hopefully, you will not have to ask yourself the question of What Do I And The Prophet Jonah Have In Common?
~Darren L. Beattie, BA, MSHS
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