As Christ Followers, many times we get caught up in figuring out what God has in store for us. We want to know what God’s call on our life is. It gives us a sense of direction. It gives us hope. It gives us a peace in knowing that we are doing God’s work. We feel like we are fulfilling some good works quota (that doesn’t exist). We can go to sleep at night and mentally check that “Did God’s Work” task off our spiritual checklist.
So we pray, and we ask God what he wants us to do. We hope he will say something really cool like, “Help this old lady across the street and I will fulfill all of your heart’s desires.” We want to win the spiritual lottery where we get to do a tiny bit of work and earn a great reward (preferably on Earth, but we are willing to wait until heaven because that’s the right thing to say). Or we want some awesome adventure where God sends us to New Zealand to follow in the footstep of the Fellowship of the Ring. We’ll find Elvish cities hidden in the mountains. Our journey will end at a volcano where we will sing worship songs and praise God for the Best. Trip. Ever. Your Facebook friends will be so jealous.
But usually, it’s not like that at all. And many times, God tells us what he wants us to do and we ask for a second option. Or, God gives us something to do that we are just flat out afraid of.
Jonah 1:1-4 (NLT)
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. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the LORD by sailing to Tarshish.
4 But the LORD hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart.
Jonah freaked out. Nineveh? No one goes to Nineveh. It’s like the West Virginia of the Old Testament landscape. Instead, Jonah bought a ticket to Key West; plenty of work to be done there for God, but it isn’t where God told him to go.
How many times have we done that? We pray for God’s direction. He gives it to us, and then we do the exact opposite. I think Paul said it best in Romans 7, “The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.”
Then the tough question is asked of Jonah
Jonah 1:8-10 (NLT)
8 “Why has this awful storm come down on us?” they demanded. “Who are you? What is your line of work? What country are you from? What is your nationality?”
9 Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.”
10 The sailors were terrified when they heard this, for he had already told them he was running away from the LORD. “Oh, why did you do it?” they groaned.
“Oh, why did you do it?” From there, Jonah tells them to throw him in the water. I guess he would rather die in the ocean than answer the question, “Why didn’t you do what God called you to do?” Or, “What did you do the exact opposite of what God asked you to do?”
That’s the question we all face when the day of judgement comes. How do you answer that? I don’t think God will accept, “Throw me in the water?” I just don’t see that going over well.
We can justify it all we like. At the end of the day, we choose our way over God’s way when we decline to do what he calls us to do. We show our ego, our selfishness, and our fear when we run away from the Lord. We know that what he calls us to do is the right thing, but we choose our way instead.
In discussing this topic with my son, (who wanted to watch me write tonight – not because I am that cool, but because it meant he didn’t have to get into bed just yet) he recognized that he knows making his bed is the right thing to do in the mornings, but he still doesn’t want to do it. His five year old brain knows it would make mommy and daddy happy if he did it without us asking him to, but he still doesn’t do it. And then he changed the subject and asked how we made our bed. I guess he didn’t want to answer any questions about not doing what his parents called him to do. So, like being cast into the sea, he was sent to bed.
Judgement day should be interesting, when we are all held accountable for all those times in our lives when we chose ourselves over God.
What is God calling you to do?