Sunday, August 23, 2009

Anywhere Lord…..Just Not There.

Jonah didn't like God's plans.

Jonah 1:1 The LORD gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 "Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are."3 But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the LORD.

Jonah 2:1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish. 2 He said, "I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and LORD, you heard me! 3 You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves.

Jonah 3: 4 On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: "Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!" 5 The people of Nineveh believed God's message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow. 10 When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.

God asked Jonah to be his man to go tell the people of the great city of Nineveh that God is not happy with them.

Jonah decided that he didn't want to be God's man to lead a revival in Nineveh, this city was the capital of the Assyrian empire, Jonah didn't like his assignment and he really wasn't interested in preaching to these wicked people. Jonah's will was exactly the opposite of God's will, God wanted to show mercy to the Assyrians but Jonah only wanted the Assyrians to experience God's judgment.

Jonah's self centered desires required some intervention from God to redirect Jonah's path. The Lord told Jonah to go East and Jonah said nope, I am going west, he got to the coast of the Mediterranean and he said I need to go even farther so he bought his ticket and off he went, further west on that now famous boat ride.

Notice how going against God became a difficult path, the progress of the boat was hindered by a huge storm, and Jonah's plan to run from God wasn't going so well. Jonah thought that everything was working out great, he was so much at peace with his plan that he bedded down for the night and didn't have any idea that danger was on the way, instead of the Ninevites experiencing judgment Jonah was about to experience it instead.

Jonah wasn't ready to pursue God's will, he didn't agree with it, he had a struggle to come to grips with what God was asking him to do, God looks for leaders who resolutely strive to understand and pursue his will, even if we can't stand the thought of what God wants us to do.

Often times in life we feel like we are riding in that boat waiting to see if it is going to fall apart, we are in the midst of a storm that God has sent but we don't see that the purpose of the storm may be a means of God getting our attention so that we will change course. When we are in that boat we will often blame others for the situation but when Jonah was asked he immediately confessed that he was the reason for the storm.

Does it seem weird that Jonah told the guys to throw him into the ocean, why not just get down on your knees and beg God for forgiveness? Maybe Jonah still wasn't ready to go to Nineveh, maybe the thought of dying at sea was a better idea in Jonah's mind than going to Nineveh, but God was willing to give Jonah another chance to do his will. Jonah was repentant and he was able to show the Assyrians that they needed to repent too.

Am I willing to do ANYTHING that God asks me to do? It is easy to think so before the time comes to actually do it. God wants leaders that are willing to do his will even when it is something that you prefer not to do. I think that most of us have said I will go anywhere but… For Jonah the big but in his life was Nineveh, God wanted to do big things in Nineveh, but Jonah needed some time to get on board with God's plan.

Forgive me for not being completely obedient, thank you for working with me Lord even when I don't think that your way is the best. Help me to trust you and help me to desire the same things that you desire and to be completely willing to follow you.