The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.
Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.
But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”
Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”
He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”
This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)
The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”
“Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”
Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.
Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Most children spend the better part of their childhood wishing they were grown up. Maybe it’s because human nature leaves us wanting more control over our decisions. As a child, it’s easy to think being out in the world alone with no one to tell us what to do will be fun. The thought of no rules and no bedtime is exciting to a child. It typically doesn’t take much “adult-ing” though to bring most to the realization that having a parent helping and guiding us through life wasn’t such a bad thing after all.
As adults, we often find ourselves “knowing better” or being the enforcer of rules~the one “in control” possibly as a parent, a boss or a leader of some kind. We become used to being the one calling the shots and maybe that is why it’s often so hard for us to be obedient to God.
Obedience takes humility and awareness and practice! Often times it feels so much harder to follow through because our human desires and emotions are standing in the way of what we know is the right decision.
It doesn’t really matter why Jonah ran from God and from Nineveh in Jonah Chapter 1. The bottom line is that he decided he knew better than God and chose outright disobedience over God’s command for him.
It’s easy to judge Jonah for his behavior, but if we are truly being honest with ourselves we all have a little bit of Jonah living in our hearts.
We should be asking ourselves these questions (and often) when it comes to obedience in our lives.
- What has God commanded or asked of me recently that I’m not following through with?
- What am I running to instead of God?
- How am I rationalizing my decisions?
Maybe you are seeking attention from a co-worker that you shouldn’t be. Maybe you’re getting your self-worth from likes on social media instead of from God. Maybe it’s easier for you to wash away your worries with a couple of drinks instead of going before God to receive the love and comfort you truly need. Maybe shopping and material possessions make you feel good, but you’re constantly spending money you don’t have instead of giving back to God and paying for the things you actually need. Our struggles may be different, but we’ve all got to figure out how to avoid or stop acting like Jonah did in Chapter 1.
It seems so elementary, but humbling ourselves and becoming conscious of the fact that God loves us and wants what’s best for us is the first step. (Maybe we should’ve had this same attitude toward our parents as children too.) We have to decide at some point in our walk with God that we are going to choose holy over temporary happiness and that being obedient is more important to us than getting what we want (or in many cases what we think we want).
When Satan is whispering in your ear that you know better than God… what are you going to choose to do? Jonah ran from God. He took a much harder path to get to the same destination. The choice is before us each and every day.
Here’s a quote and a verse for us to consider as we keep obedience to God at the forefront of our hearts and minds today:
“Sin will take you further than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay and cost you more than you ever wanted to pay.” ~unknown
“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” ~Proverbs 3:5
Breathe in God’s love… exhale the thought that you know best…
Lord, it’s hard to be a grown up. It’s even harder to obey you when everyone else around us seems to be ignoring you. I pray that I would become more aware of the fact that you want what is best for me. I pray that I would choose to be obedient and show my love for you not by talking the talk, but by walking the walk. May my life be an example to those around me of just how much I love and trust you. Amen.
Today’s post was written by Amanda Sanders.
Amanda has been married to her high school sweet heart Matt for 11 years. Together they have three kids ages 8, 7 and 3. In this season of life, Amanda spends most of her time drinking coffee, teaching children, doing laundry and repeating herself. Occasionally, she has some time for working out, reading for leisure and writing. You can find her on Sunday mornings worshiping at our Real Life UCF campus.
Join us in our Summer Reading Plan. Download the plan here and kick off the book of Jonah by watching this video: