“The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish.” – Jonah 1: 1-3. .
If you stopped the average person on the street and asked them where they are going, they would probably answer absolutely. They would draw your attention to Google Maps and Waze on their iPhone and say, “I know how to get there too.”
Everyone likes to think that they have some sense of direction, and most people believe they are going in the right direction. But frequently, people will take a wrong turn somewhere and will wonder, “how in the world did I get here?” That can happen spiritually when we choose our way using our internal compass over the direction God gives us.
God has had a plan for each and every one of us. God had a plan for Jonah, but Jonah wasn’t interested in that plan. He thought he had a better plan. So he went the opposite way God had instructed him. He thought he knew where he was going, and for awhile things seemed pretty good. In fact, at that point Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold (of the ship; Jonah 1:5)
But things were not going so well. God sent a violent storm at sea that threatened to break the ship apart. The sailors were terrified. They called out in desperation to their gods. They threw everything they were carrying overboard to lighten the ship.They cast lots and Jonah got the short straw. “Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.” (Jonah 1:12) The sailors hesitated but eventually threw Jonah into the sea and the storm stopped at once.
You know the rest of the story. Jonah spent three days in the belly of a fish. That convinced him to go where God wanted him to go. Before we judge Jonah, we need to ask ourselves if we too are sometimes running in the wrong direction, thinking we know where we are going. We too may find that things are fine initially. But if we want to do amazing things for God as Jonah did, we need to turn and move in the direction God is leading us. Because no matter where we are headed, God can turn us in His divine direction.
- Can you imagine living in the belly of a fish for three days?
- Is it possible to flee from the presence of the Lord?
- How can you know if God is pursuing you?