Lessons from Jonah...

Whew! I can't believe the weekend is already over and it's Monday - where did the time go?? We had a great time at Busch Gardens on Saturday with the Youth and Sunday passed in a blur as we spent time at church and with my in - laws. I feel like I need an extra couple days in my week to get everything accomplished that I need to!

Yesterday morning we heard an awesome sermon about Jonah (you know, Jonah and the whale ... VBS type material). It's caused me to think about how this could apply in my own life. I want to share in hopes that you'll be as blessed by the lesson I'm being shown as I am!

Obviously most of us know the story ... God tells Jonah to go to Ninevah to warn the people there of God's view of their sin so that they would repent and be saved. Jonah doesn't want to go because he doesn't want the wicked people to be saved, so he catches a boat to Tarshish. God sends a storm and the crew of the ship wants Jonah to pray so that GOd will end the storm. Instead, Jonah tells them to throw him overboard because he knows that he's the problem and God's angry with him. So they throw in off the boat, a big fish swallows him, he spends three days in the belly of the fish and then gets thrown up. With a reluctant heart he heads off to Ninvah and warns the wicked people. They repent and turn from their ways, yet Jonah is still angry because he didn't want to go and he thinks they should be destroyed. He's miserable in the desert and wants to die, but then he sees a vine that will offer him shade. He's thrilled! He sits down under the vine and rests in the shade until God sends a worm to eat up the vine and it shrivels. Jonah is angry again and complains to God about how terrible it is that he destroyed the vine. Basically God says "Do you have any right to be mad at me???" We never see what happens with Jonah after that.

One thing that struck me in the sermon I heard was that maybe God does "force" us to do His will sometimes. Have you ever heard the phrase "God is a perfect gentleman and He never forces Himself on anyone" ? But, it sure seems like that's what He did to Jonah. He sent an awful storm and then had him swallowed by a whale... hmmmm... I think I'd obey right about then!

Have you ever said no to God? I have. I've said no when life didn't turn out just as I wanted it. I've told him that this wasn't what I planned on and I do not want to live this life - I'd like the one I planned, and would He please just cooperate, thank you very much! Wow... what arrogance! I sometimes think that I know better than God what would be good for me. Who am I to think that? Who was Jonah to think that he knew better than God what should happen to the folks in Ninevah? An arrogant little nobody! It's sobering.

What happens when we say no to God? Well, I've never been on a boat in a storm, thrown overboard and swallowed by a fish. I'm going to guess that you haven't either. But, I have had a season of extrememe depression. I've experienced discontent in life because I was fighting God's will. Worse, I've missed out on some amazing things God planned for me. I don't even know what they were, but I know I would have been blessed if I had just been obedient.

It's a heart issue too. We can't just be obedient on the outside. Jonah eventually did go to Ninevah, but he still wasn't happy about it. God was still displeased with Jonah because his heart wasn't in harmony with God's plan. We can't just obey on the outside and grumble on the inside. Changing our hearts is extrememly difficult. It requires total submission to God and LOTS of prayer. It's so worth it though -- it means deeper relationship with our Father. It means a life lived to the fullest of God's plan. And it just might mean avoiding being digested by a sea creature!

Let's stop saying no to God and get our hearts alligned with His!!

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Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

This could preach sister! I have been guilty of not obeying God at times inmy life and when I look back I realize how things would have been different if I had just listened to Him and been obedient!

Thanks for this today - what a blessed word it was.

Denise @ A Sacred Longing said...

I can totally relate to not cooperating when life didn't go as I had planned. Infertility can do that to! :o)

I shudder to think all that I have missed during my disobedience. And I am ever grateful for God's grace and mercy!


Daveda said...

Lauren, really good post! I do believe that when we are one with God obedience is a promise. If we are truly One with Him, yet operating outside of Him, we will be so uncomfortable and miserable that we will follow after Him, even if it takes a little time :) Like you said. I think as we journey with Him and He continually changes our hearts and draws us closer, these times where we dawdle become far and few between because the more we know Him and His love for us the easier we hear Him and trust Him to guide us.

Wonderful post! I really enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

This is really good Lauren!

What is hard about this is that Jonah was a prophet of God (and completely off subject, I cannot type this without picturing Archie Asparagus in my head, LOL). I mean, if anyone should be willing and able to do the Lord's work, it should be one of His prophets, right? This just goes to show how important it is to ALWAYS make sure He is our delight, and then our desires will be his desires.

I personally don't believe God "forces" us to do things; but I do believe He will allow certain circumstances in our lives to happen in order to guide us back to the track He wants us to be on. And you cited some very real circumstances that come from disobedience - depression, discontent, missing out on other opportunities. We've all experienced them, and how much more fulfilled would our lives have been had we said, "Nevertheless, not my will, but Yours."

Great post!

Lois Lane II said...

You are so right -- it takes LOTS of prayer. Hubby and I are working on this now. We know we need to submit to God's will in a certain area, but it's so hard to retrain our thinking -- but we know we will be blessed for it in the end!

3 Blessings said...

I love this post and it goes right along with what I posted today. Bless you sweet friend.

About the comment you left on my blog...if He is leading you dive in! You know He will bless your journey if it is His will. I am praying for you and John.

Mich said...

Great words, my friend! Oh, I am so thankful the Lord doesn't keep a count of how many times I've said "no." He just provides the strength for me to change.

Lynnette Kraft said...

Hi Lauren,
Thanks for linking up your blog I always enjoy my visits. :)

I FINALLY got your cute burlap bag off in the mail! I'm so sorry I was such a sluggard. I kept meaning to go and buy envelopes...and kept forgetting.

Have a great week friend,

RickNiekLikeBikes said...

Glad I found you! Great thinker. I remember God asked Job a similar question when he complained of His plight...God in Chapter 40 says, "Were you there when...?

Good Stuff