Traveling by ship can be a pleasant experience. However, on a recent voyage, we sailed into a storm. The ship was in the experienced and able hands of the ship captain, but it was still alarming as the wind howled and waves crashed against the bow. My mind harkened back to the Biblical account of Jonah.
“Now the Word of the Lord Came to Jonah” (Jonah 1:1). I believe, sooner or later, God’s call comes to every person. We serve a ‘speaking’ God. He may speak to us in a sermon, a song, advice from a Christian friend, a verse of scripture, etc. The Lord said to Jonah, “Arise and go to Nineveh that Great City and cry out against it.” What a phrase comes next: “But Jonah…” In defiance of God’s word, he didn’t listen. Jonah clearly understood God’s word and what His will was. But Jonah set his will against God’s will. Know this, as free moral agents, we don’t have to listen to the Lord. Jonah exercised his free will and refused God’s call, to his own ruin.
Some thoughts about the account of Jonah:
- He boarded a ship to flee from God’s presence. He chose to go the opposite direction. Ah, Jonah, and anyone else who is running from the Lord, you need to be aware of Psalm 139:7-10: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the utter parts of the sea, even there thy hand shall lead me. Thy right hand shall hold me”.
- God will not compel us to obey. God honored Jonah’s free will.
- Verse 3: “He went down to Joppa”. We always go ‘down’ when we run from God. “He paid the fare”. We always pay dearly when we run from God.
- Verse 5: “But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea”. End result – Jonah was thrown overboard by the ship’s crew and swallowed by a great fish.
- Where was the storm? It was on the Sea! If Jonah had stayed on dry land and started for Nineveh like God asked him to do, he would not have been caught in this terrible storm at sea.
Those who choose to run from God are destined to find themselves caught in a storm. The storms of life, in which we find ourselves engulfed, can often be avoided by listening to the Lord.
Prayer: Lord, when you speak to us, let our answer be, “Yes, Lord, Yes”. By doing Your will, we can avoid many of life’s storms.
~ Brother Roy