Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Other Option

It occurred to me the other day after I wrote the post Here I Am that I had completely left out an option.  (And it is very odd that I forgot this particular option, as I have had personal experience with this one fairly recently.) 

When God tells us to do something, we can argue like Moses, obey like Abraham, or take the other route:  Jonah's.   

Jonah didn't argue.  Jonah certainly didn't obey. 
"Jonah ran away from the Lord..."  Jonah 1:3

In verse 2, God told him to go to Nineveh.  Verse 3, Jonah runs in the other direction.  No arguing.  No debating.  No negotiating.  He just ran away. 

This is a familiar story to most people.  A cute kid's tale about a big fish that swallows Jonah.  I never really got it, though.  Until about a year and a half ago.  I started the book "How to Study Your Bible" by Kay Arthur, which teaches you how to do inductive Bible study.  To demonstrate the methods she is teaching, she uses the book of Jonah.  God used this book to speak very clearly to me.  I had been running from something he had been telling me to do for over a year.  He was asking me to give up something.  I really didn't want to.

So here I was reading the story of Jonah.  I mean really reading it and analyzing it.  Jonah heard God's instruction to head east.  So, he went west.  He hopped a boat, went below deck and fell asleep.  God sent a great storm to wake him up.  Still he slept.

This part of the story really spoke to me.  It is the picture of a little kid with his fingers in his ears, saying, "La, la, la, la, la...I can't hear you!"

That was precisely what I was doing to God.  I knew what He was telling me.  I just didn't want to do it.  I ignored Him...and experienced the resulting turbulence. 

Jonah was finally awakened by the other terrified men on the boat.  He accepted responsibility for the storm and asked to be thrown overboard.  Immediately the storm was calmed.  God sent a big fish to swallow Jonah.  Think about that for a minute.  It is not a cute kid's story.  Jonah had no edible food, no drinkable water, no warmth.  He was soaking wet and in utter darkness for three days and three nights.  Really picture that.  He was not a cartoon character.  He was a real man in a real predicament.  Talk about the ultimate "time-out"!  He had nothing.  He could do nothing to get himself out of this situation.  And so, it was here that He cried out to God.

Why do we always wait until things are so bad--until everything has fallen apart, until we have exhausted all other resources--before we cry out to God? 

Why do we hide from His divine plan and purpose for our life, thinking we know better than Him what is good for us? 

Why are we so focused on our own comfort, rather than being willing to follow what He says and live fully by His grace and guidance?

Living out our own plan in our own strength will always fail.  Living out God's plan with His provision will always succeed.  Why do we have to repeat this lesson over and over again?!

Are you currently experiencing some great stress in your life?  Could it be a result of not following God's instructions?  Granted, not all stress in life is God trying to wake you up.  But, sometimes it is. 

Are you having a "big fish" encounter?  Are you running away from God's plan, fingers in ears?  After studying the book of Jonah, it became very clear to me that I was indeed doing so.  I cried out to God for forgiveness and asked Him to help me obey Him.  He has been faithful to do so each and every day since. 

Don't wait for God to send the storm.  And if you are in the storm right now, don't wait for the fish!!! 

Jonah.  Moses.  Or Abraham.  Who are you going to be like?

Whatever He is calling you to do, do it.  He will help you.  He has promised not to leave you.  Just like He did with each of these men, He will give you what you need when you need it. 

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  Isaiah 41:10

Trust Him. 

Follow Him. 

Like the old hymn says, "Trust and Obey":

When we walk with the Lord 
 in the light of his word, 
 what a glory he sheds on our way! 
 While we do his good will, 
 he abides with us still, 
 and with all who will trust and obey. 

 Trust and obey, for there's no other way 
 to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. 

 Not a burden we bear, 
 not a sorrow we share, 
 but our toil he doth richly repay; 
 not a grief or a loss, 
 not a frown or a cross, 
 but is blest if we trust and obey. 
 Trust and obey, for there's no other way 
 to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. 

 But we never can prove 
 the delights of his love 
 until all on the altar we lay; 
 for the favor he shows, 
 for the joy he bestows, 
 are for them who will trust and obey. 
 Trust and obey, for there's no other way 
 to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. 

 Then in fellowship sweet 
 we will sit at his feet, 
 or we'll walk by his side in the way; 
 what he says we will do, 
 where he sends we will go; 
 never fear, only trust and obey. 
Trust and obey, for there's no other way
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

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