Nothing stops the call that God has on our life. Not the enemy, not humans, not circumstances, nothing can overpower who God has innately created us to be.
Enter Jonah. God knew Jonah, he gave him the gift of evangelism, the gift to preach good news and He equipped Jonah to do these things. So, a day comes when God calls Jonah specifically to go to the city of Nineveh and to preach. At this time, Nineveh was a place without hope. A place where people had lost their way. They were wicked towards each other and lived in chaos. Jonah carried something that they needed, but he liked the safety and comfort of doing his own thing, he liked being in control of his way. And honestly, standing up for what was right in Nineveh was just about a death sentence. People would have laughed at him, made fun of his God….there was nothing fun or comfortable about preaching the good news in Nineveh. Hope filled or not, Nineveh was so lost, they wouldn’t have noticed.
So Jonah boarded a boat and headed the opposite direction.
And so God allowed a storm to come; he sent a violent wind storm to intercede. It rocked the boat that the crew was on. And boats back then weren’t like they are now, so this violent storm threatened to literally tear the boat in half. And the sailors realized, this storm. It was Jonah’s storm. But, now….they were collateral damage. And the storm continued. And the seas became rougher and rougher until they knew that they wouldn’t make it.
So, Jonah told them, “Throw me into the Sea.” But he had involved these sailors, and they now had this invested interest in his life so they didn’t. They tried to save Jonah, and they began to try to row back to land. But they couldn’t. The seas were simply too wild. So, finally they took Jonah, and they cast him over the side of their boat into the raging sea.
And it was calm.
And now here’s the part that you all know. The Lord sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah. And inside the belly of that fish, it was just Jonah and the Lord. At rock bottom, inside the belly of a whale is where Jonah realized he was at the point where he was no longer in control. He was in the belly of a FISH! He wouldn’t be pulling himself out of this situation. So whether he wanted to or not- he let go, and he surrendered. And he said,
“In my distress I called to the Lord,
and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
You hurled me into the depths,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
I said, ‘I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’
The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.
“When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
“Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God’s love for them.
But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’ ”
And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
Sometimes we shy away from some of these Old Testament stories. But, I think there is so much to glean here from other people’s lives.
What are you running from today?
Do you even know? Are you running from the call God has on your life?
There is a culture beckoning us to go our own way. It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you are at in life. The world is calling. The world is calling you to believe this, and to compromise here, and do this, and do that.
It’s calling us to run from broken relationships.
It’s calling us to run from our weakness.
It’s calling us to run from big things, the big scary things.
It’s calling us to run from the pressure that seems to be closing in.
It’s calling us to run from God.
But, here’s the thing. You can’t run from God. I laugh as I type that now because these days, feel so far from those days. The days where I thought I could outrun God. Jonah literally boarded a boat and took off in the opposite direction of Nineveh as if the all-powerful, God of the universe wouldn’t find him, or better yet maybe he thought that God would forget about him. If he just left, just abandoned his calling, then God would give up on him.
But HE didn’t. He followed and pursued him! God allows storms to come, not to punish us but to intervene, to redirect.
The thing is, with those storms, come casualties. When we choose to run from the call on our life, it’s impossible for others not to be swept up in our storm. We are people, meant for relationship. So when we run, we pull others with us, or we have others that care so much that they chase us straight into the storm. When Jonah was in that boat, every other crew member entered into danger of losing their life. It’s so easy to think that we can sin, or we can run and no one gets hurt, but we’re tied to others. There will always be casualties, and the longer we run, the worse the storms gets.
For whatever reason, in our human-ness we often choose the storm. As if that is easier; pressing our way through a violent storm on our own two feet, instead of letting God carry us into our calling.
And we all have a calling. Friend, don’t you think for a moment that you don’t have a specific purpose for your life.
Before God formed you in the womb. He knew you. Before you were born, He set you apart; He appointed you for THIS time, and THIS place. He called you to stand tall, to bring hope to the hopeless,
To run after restoration for all relationships.
To run after strength.
To run after the big things, the scary things, the impossible things.
To run after the pressure filled situations.
To run after Him.
And when you run, when you stop running from God, and run after Him….When you run after Him, when you run toward your calling, other people will be swept up in the wind. The hands that you are holding, or the people who are chasing you, they will be pulled toward hope. They will be pulled into revival.
You see, we can’t outrun God, but we were meant to run with Him.