On the east end of Dauphin Island, there is a toll ferry. It operates between Ft. Gaines and Ft. Morgan across the bay. If you are willing to pay the fare, you can board the ship and escape many miles of driving and the traffic around the city of Mobile. The toll sign for the ferry reminds me of another ship, an ancient traveler, a paid the fare, and an attempt to escape God’s call. It is the account of Jonah.
Re-reading the account of Jonah, I noticed a fascinating sequence of key phrases in the first few verses of the Book of Jonah. Let me share some insights in a concise outline form with brief commentary on each phrase.
- “The word of the Lord came to Jonah…” – I believe the Lord wants to communicate His will to every person. It may be in a sermon, a verse of scripture, in a song, a still small voice inside, or in any of a myriad of other ways. The history of man in scripture is a continuous account of God’s attempts to communicate with us and reveal His will to us.
- “But Jonah arose to flee” – We are free moral agents. We can choose to listen when God speaks or we can disregard His voice. We can choose to run from His will. Jonah’s intention was to go to Tarshish, a place which represented the most distant place known to the Israelites.
- “He went down to Joppa…” – When we exercise our free will and choose to flee from God’s will, we always go down. The account uses the word ‘down’ in relation to physical geography, but the same is true in the spiritual sense. God’s way is the upper way. It is the best way. All other roads ultimately lead downward.
- “So he paid the fare…” – Running from God’s will always costs us dearly. Disobedience takes us farther than we intend to go, keeps us longer than we intend to stay, and will cost us more than we are prepared to pay.
- “But the Lord…” – The Lord always has the last word. We can ignore Him and do our own thing for a while, but eventually He will be heard. His will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven.
- “The Lord sent out a great wind on the sea” – Jonah ran away from God’s will and ran into a violent storm. The storm was “on the sea”. If Jonah had taken the original route that God had called him to take, he would have been on dry land. Running from God runs us into storms. We put ourselves in harms way.
Are you running from God’s will? Jonah was thrown over board and swallowed by a great fish. Disaster follows those who choose to run from God and their own choices swallow them up. But our God is a God of second chances:
- “Jonah cried out to the Lord from the fish’s belly.” (Jonah 2:1)
- “The Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited out Jonah on dry land.” (Jonah 2:10)
- “And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah a second time.” (Jonah 3:1)
If you are not where you ought to be, cry out to God in repentance. He is a God of second chances. Don’t keep going down deeper and deeper.
~ Brother Roy