“So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.” – Hebrews 2:1
Jonah was a prophet who fled God’s call to warn Nineveh of the coming judgment. He foolishly hopped a boat to Tarshish instead of obeying, and in response, God hurls a great storm upon the ship. Jonah is in a mess. And we think, “Well, he got himself into this.” He did. But we shouldn’t be too smug especially if we put our lives under a microscope. We’ve run from God, if not physically, certainly in our hearts. We all tend to be fugitives on the run from God.
My guess is Jonah’s plan for his life didn’t include running from God. But when God called, Jonah limited what God could ask of him. He drifted from God. He didn’t see the drift, because we never see the drift. He still felt he operated within his calling. He wasn’t cheating on his wife, he wasn’t stealing, he was being a good Israelite. He drifted when God asked him to go warn people who he viewed as enemies. Not only that, he was appalled that God would even ask it of him.
Drifting happens when two problems coincide: we neglect God’s word and we accept an alternative message. That’s what happened to Jonah. He ignored God’s word to go to Nineveh and accepted an alternative word that God should judge, not forgive Nineveh. Jonah wanted to turn God into an unforgiving judge. And he thought he was justified in doing so.
When we refuse to listen to all of God’s word and substitute other, more acceptable messages instead, we set ourselves on the same path as Jonah. And we might not even see the size of the minefield until something extraordinary comes along and wakes us up: something like a storm at sea and a group of pagan sailors pleading with us to pray for salvation. But his drift found him out. God knows, no matter where you are if you’re faithful or not. Others may not know your drift, but God does.
God’s purposes will be accomplished. Jonah’s mission was delayed by his flight from God. God would stop him, and turn him around by a storm and a fish. Why? Most certainly it had to do with the matter of urgency. The judgment upon Nineveh was pending so the preaching of God’s word had to be done promptly. Time was of the essence.
What about God’s mission for us? Are we “drifting?” Or, are we committed to “study to show ourselves approved unto God,” in the business of our Father. We might be like Jonah, for one reason or another, running away from the calling of God so the mission is not fully engaged. There is a neglect of the purpose, the direction, the reason for which God has put us on this earth.
- Is it easy to recognize when we drift? Why or why not?
- What can we do this week to ensure we stay focused on our spiritual mission?