Sunday, 15 November 2015

Refusing to Obey

Refusing to Obey

Scripture: Jonah 1 v 10
"Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them."

There will come a day when the Lord lays something on your heart that is against everything you know or want to believe. He may want you to end a relationship that is going to damage your life. He may want you to confess to a crime that happened years ago. He may want to change your direction to a destination not to your liking.

Whatever it may be your response may be to run the other way. Go on holiday. Put distance between you and the situation. While you are escaping your whole world starts to fall apart as the Lord makes escape very difficult. Just as He did for Jonah.

God wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh and give them warning about the consequences of their many sins. Jonah loathed the Ninevites much as most of us feel about the Daesh (ISIS), or Al Qaeda, or Assad of Syria. And we would no doubt react just like Jonah did. Run, hide, escape, be somewhere else. Anything but do God's will.

Others can get caught up in your panic and be hurt by it. To spare them you sacrifice yourself. Let me die you say.  Even death was preferable to Jonah than helping that evil city.  You may agree with Jonah and desire death over obedience, and at the very last moment God spares your life and the scary thing you were fleeing from becomes quite acceptable, in the end it turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to you.

Jonah had to be thrown overboard, swallowed by a whale, bleached white by its gastric juices and then spat out on the beach near the city of Nineveh! He must have asked a shocked fisherman "Where am I?" and realised that God means business with Nineveh and resigned himself to do what was commanded.

God knows best and can see the future. He had that big fish ready and waiting to deliver Jonah to the place He wanted him to be. The impact on Nineveh was heightened by how Jonah looked and how God engineered his arrival on their shores. Anyway his words had the desired effect and the whole city repented by fasting in sackcloth and ashes for three days.

Jonah developed a death wish. No matter how evil or wrong people are, God loves them and Jesus died for them. He will go to extremes to reach the lost and fallen as He did for each one of us. If you are the closest available extreme method then it could easily fall on you to reach out to the lowest of the low.

So when the Lord God gives you a difficult task to do, pause and ponder before you run. There are still plenty of whales in the sea ready to do their Creator's bidding. When God's plan for us is displeasing we need to stop fighting it and look for the advantages.  We need to see beyond the immediate drama to the victory over the many Jesus is aiming at. 

Prayer: Almighty God nothing ever surprises You. You know us so well and Your plans for us are always for our good. If You need to move Heaven and Earth to save the lost help us to submit to Your plans peacefully so that You may be glorified in us. Amen.