Sunday, February 1, 2015

When God Wants to Lead

Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” – Jonah 1:17

When I was a little girl, about 13 years old, one of my favorite gifts was a tiny little Dachshund named Penny.  She was a Christmas present from my parents.  When I first laid eyes on her I was sitting in my grandmother Ruby’s kitchen and my Dad came in and said he had something in his shirt pocket for me.  About that time she poked her head out and I fell in love!

Being a puppy she needed lots of training.  I started reading how to housebreak a puppy from a 4H booklet, and soon she was house broken.  I was also able to teach her not to beg for food from the table, how to roll over, sit, shake hands, and all the usual good doggie tricks.  But I will never forget trying to teach her to walk on a leash!

I strapped the little cord of a leash onto her collar and took her outside and put her down.  In now time at all she had hog-tied me into a mess and the cord of the leash was biting into my legs!  No sooner would I get unwound than she’s tangle me up again!  Finally I got at a distance from her and tried to call her to walk with me.  She began pulling in the opposite direction, which only made the collar she was wearing cause her to choke.  I tried calming her down, getting her to sit, and then moving away from her and calling her again.  What did she do? She laid down! She wouldn’t move!  Her expression was one of “why are you punishing me with this cord?” I wasn’t punishing her at all, but wanted to teach her how to be obedient, how to follow my commands.  By learning how to walk on a leash she could go more places with me. 

Reading through the story of Jonah, I would imagine God felt the same way when trying to teach Jonah to be obedient.  He told him in Jonah 1:2 to “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.  Yet Jonah decides to go the other way, just the opposite of God’s leadership.  He was like a bad dog on a leash, trying his best to “flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord”.  What God had asked was not complicated or physically difficult, but it was outside what Jonah wanted to do with his life.  So he rebelled.

But there came a time when Jonah was no longer given an option to rebel against God.  Out on the Sea God caused a mighty storm to come and all the mariners became fearful of what was going on and knew that God was angry at one of them.  When they found that it was Jonah, even Jonah knew that they would all die if he did not get thrown overboard.  At that moment Jonah stood to even lose his own life due to his disobedience, and to cost the lives of the sailors. 

Once thrown into the sea, there was only one place Jonah was going – into the mouth of the big fish that God had prepared for him.  His options for serving God were gone.  God wanted his service, and at that point demanded it.  Was it punishment for Jonah?  No! God saved him from drowning or being eaten by sharks.  If God had wanted to punish Jonah, He would have done nothing.  Nothing at all.  Make no mistake friends, when God removes His presence from your life - that is the greatest punishment of all!

We often talk about having “doors” opened for us in our lives, and knowing which ones to go through, and which ones to slam shut. Jonah was all out of doors when God showed up with the big fish.  The only door available was the fish’s mouth, and Jonah was going in!  In the same way that I was determined to teach Penny to walk on a leash, God was determined to get obedience from Jonah.

Don’t wait until God gives you a fish’s mouth kind of option to serve.  Take the easy route and just walk with Him where he leads.


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