Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Jonah: Follow God's Plan


Jonah: Follow God’s Plan

 

 “We pray, O Lord, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You.” – Jonah 1:14

The book of Jonah tells the story not only of the rebellion of the City of Nineveh, but also of God’s very own prophet, Jonah.  Jonah was stubborn.  He didn’t want to follow the path God laid in front of Him. Many of us can relate to Jonah’s dislike for God’s plan.  That plan is not always the most comfortable, the easiest, or the most effective in our eyes.  God never promised that following Him would be easy, but He did promise that it would be worth it.
Jonah was probably waking up from a peaceful rest, ready to take on another week of comfortable same ole’- same ole’ when God spoke up.  God said to him in Jonah 1:2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” The command was specifically for Jonah.  God didn’t express His need for someone to go to Nineveh, or His search to find the right man.  God had a plan, and He commanded Jonah to follow it.  But Jonah’s rebellion bubbled up from his heart.  God’s plan just wasn’t what he had in mind.  So he decided to craft his own plan.  He decided he knew what was best and he was going to Tarshish.  Jonah was going to attempt the impossible.  He he was going to run away from God!

But Jonah, with his ego blazing a new trail, jumped on a boat.  God waited till they got out into the sea and began to bring the waves against it.  The mariners were afraid, and began to lighten the boat by throwing precious cargo overboard.  Since the cargo would have been their products to create an income, the waves had to have been horrifying! Yet Jonah somehow had managed to sleep until the Captain woke him, and said “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.”
I like now the Captain addresses him as “sleeper”.  It was no longer about who Jonah was in God, a prophet, but about what he was doing.  He’d rejected his calling to please himself.  Oh, but be sure that God loves His people enough to bring the storms to their lives to bring them back!

The mariners are a God-fearing, praying group of men.  Jonah had thought he had left God’s plan, but God altered the plan to fit Jonah’s rebellion in.  He placed a boat of His people in his way.  The plan was no longer as comfortable, but even though Jonah didn’t know it, he was still going to Nineveh.  When it’s all said and done, whose plan can be completed other than Almighty God’s?  His is in charge of our every breath and our every circumstance.  Running from Him is a waste of energy. 
The crew, who knew the storm was punishment from God, cast lots to determine who had caused this storm to come upon them, and the lot fell on Jonah.  When they asked him his occupation, somehow Jonah couldn’t say it.  He answered “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.

This plan now includes a test for the crew as well.  They have to honor God’s punishment of this man, and throw him overboard, or they have to try to protect him.  They’re torn.  If they throw Jonah overboard, he could die and they would be murderers.  If they leave him on board, they all could die in God’s wrath toward Jonah.  Rebellion is sin, and sin is never personal.  It always affects those around you.
The crew cried out to God and said in Jonah 1:14, “We pray, O Lord, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You.” When they threw Jonah overboard, the sea became calm, and they offered sacrifices to God and made promises to him.  The crew had given God more respect that His Prophet Jonah. 

How many of us have decided to craft our own plan for our lives just to find out that God’s was so much easier?  Friend, God has your best interest at heart.  He sees yesterday, today, and tomorrow all in one frame.  Who better to determine the path of your life that the one who loves you unconditionally? Ask Him to reveal His plan for your life to you, and when He does, follow.  It is the past of least resistance when He walks it with you.  It is the easy road to true success.

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