In my last post, I began detailing the journey I’ve been on in Florida, using the life of the prophet Jonah for insight. Specifically, how God is the one who not only gives us our calling, but also directs it, sometimes taking us from the glories of Tarshish (the familiar, comfortable) to the pits of Nineveh (the unfamiliar, foreign).
Now we continue with Jonah on the boat for Tarshish. What’s interesting is that the text seems to imply this sort of downward spiral of dissent into disobedience that Jonah is falling down, take a look at here:
3 He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went [down] aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord. 4 Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. 5 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 [down] below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. 6 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.’ – Jonah 1:3-6
God pursues Jonah, and sends a storm his way to get his attention. We look at the storms of our lives and tend to blame God for bringing them on us, when in reality most of the time, we have brought them upon ourselves. God only sent the storm as a reaction to Jonah’s hardened heart, and in the same way, God sends trials into our lives to get our attention. He pursues us, He wants to soften our hardened hearts. And God even uses the pagan sailors to get Jonah’s attention. God will do anything to get our attention, especially when His mission to bring His kingdom to the world is at stake.
But let’s be honest, much of the time, we don’t turn to God like Jonah should have. No, we’re more like the sailors, crying out to dead idols and false gods to save us. We look to our finances for security, our accomplishments for assurance, and our self-esteem for stability. In times of trouble we think they will save us, and we couldn’t be any more wrong.
This is precisely what I did. I tried to sleep it off, ignore God and trust that things will all work out. When I moved to Florida, I didn’t really want to be here. I had to give up so much that I had worked for. California was my Israel, and I didn’t want to share my love with another. Like Jonah, I had a wonderful ministry back home, but I tried to run away from God when He told me things weren’t going to go the way I had planned. I turned instead to trusting in my successes. Surely, I can use this time in Florida to look for something better somewhere else. Surely, I can set sail for Tarshish. But when we fix our eyes on what we want, rather than on what God wants, we fall asleep, and wake up to the surrounding cries, pleading for false gods to save us. And we go along with it out of fear and misguided hope that maybe, they will in fact come through for us this time.
To Be Continued…