Jonah was determined to go to Tarshish. He was fleeing from God’s presence and command to go to Nineveh and preach to the people there. Jonah did not approve of that assignment because he disliked the Ninevites.
“But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof…” (Jonah 1:3).
He felt prejudice in his heart toward them because they were not of his own people. The story tells us of perils at sea, Jonah being cast into the sea by the sailors and swallowed by a great fish in which he stayed for three days and three nights.
In the fish’s belly, Jonah reflected on his situation and prayed to God for deliverance. Eventually, the fish vomited him out to dry land. Again the Lord spoke to Jonah, telling him to go to Nineveh and proclaim His message to the people. That time Jonah obeyed!
Often, like Jonah, we are determined to go our own way and do our own thing but God, in His wisdom, uses our stubbornness and waywardness against us and directs us back to what He has destined for us.
He can move us through the paths of our own choosing and use those same paths to bring us to the place He wants us to be. This is exactly what He did with Jonah and will do with us when we are disobedient.
Are you hiding from His presence?
We cannot hide from God’s presence for He is everywhere. All our thoughts, words and actions are known to Him. Unlike Jonah, David acknowledged this truth and asked the question, “Whither shall I flee from thy presence…?” (Psalm 139:7).
The Lord also asserts His sovereignty and asks, “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him…do not I fill heaven and earth?” (Jeremiah 23:24). These are important truths worthy of our reflection.
Can you sense God’s leading in your life for a particular vocation? When you hear His command, say “yes” to God, and in His timing, His will for you will unfold. When you say “yes” to God, He will quicken you by His Spirit to accomplish what He wants out of you.
Maybe you do not fully agree with what God is saying to you but should this be so, unlike Jonah, you can be grateful that God has chosen you to make a difference in the lives of others. You can overcome that disagreement by often going to God in quietness and confidence, asking Him for the strength and courage to accomplish His will. In obedience and humility, ask Him for enablement and wisdom to carry His plan.
Willing or unwilling?
Our big problem is our unwillingness to do the things we are supposed to do. Fulfilling God’s plan calls for willingness for the things of God and His presence. God sees His completed Big Picture and fits each of us into the parts He wants us to play to bring His scenario to actuality.
At one time, Jesus said: “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak…” therefore, willingness for God will help us overcome spiritual laziness. Though the flesh (that part of our nature that disagrees with God) is weak, we can encourage ourselves in the Lord and train that part of our nature to follow the spirit in fulfilling God’s plan. How? By bringing our thoughts, words and activities into the captivity of the Lord (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Willingness is a learned behaviour. We learn willingness when we come to the realization that we are not our own and are accountable to God, our Father. When we are willing, our task of carrying out God’s commands becomes easy because He takes His rightful place in our lives and makes the unmanifest become manifest.
God’s purpose is creative, drawing events and happenings to itself, bringing us to the fulfillment of His plans. It is a driving force, that propels us, moving us up and down hills and mountains, plains and valleys, rivers and even through fires to complete His Big Picture.
Life Lessons we can learn from this story:
- We may run from God but we cannot hide.
- He owns all things seen and unseen and uses them in mysterious ways to accomplish His desires at any time.
- We are not to be prejudiced against people not in the same faiths or creeds like ours, but serve all, the best we can in the name of Christ, for all are His (Jonah 4:11)
- We are mere vessels through whom He expresses Himself to make this a better world.
Reflection: We may run from God but we cannot hide. God is in control of His plans for His universe and our individual lives and will move us to the place He wants us to be.
Selected Readings: Psalm 139:1-7, Psalm 143:8-11, Matthew 12:50, Matthew 26:40-42, Romans 12:1, Ephesians 6:5-7, James 4:13-15.
Prayer: Dear Lord, quicken me to do thy will. Amen.
May the Lord richly bless you with His peace, love, and prosperity.
Dr. Monica Hernandez is a certified Christian counsellor and hosts the radio broadcast The Revealing Word heard on JOY 1250 AM every Sunday morning at 8:30. You can also listen in at www.joyradio.ca