Monday, October 24, 2011

Lessons from Jonah

Last week we started a new series at church on Jonah.  I thought to myself, well that will be interesting.  Even though I read the book of Jonah as a part of the Daily Wisdom Challenge (year-long bible study) I am doing, honestly, it didn't stick with me.  Why, I am not sure.  I think perhaps it may have something to do with my inability at the time to really gain insight in a mature Christian sort of way.  I don't know.  But the only thing that I "knew" was about Jonah winding up in the belly of a whale.  If you asked me who he was, that's all I could tell you - and nothing about why.  Sad but true.

I missed the first week of the series because Peyton wound up in the ER and then was admitted to the hospital. Yesterday was week two.  I made it to church, and am I glad I did!  Our pastors have a way of explaining things in a way that really resonate with me and where I'm at in my life.  Honestly, I think the message would resonate with a lot of people, given the chance to hear it.  If you are interested, please keep checking our church website as they do post the podcasts in the message archives.  I'm not sure when this particular one will be available, but keep checking!  It's so worth it!

Jonah is a short book of the Bible.  Really short.  Take a few minutes.  Read it.  Then ponder it.  I think my pen nearly ran out of ink while taking notes during the message this weekend as the first two chapters were discussed (there are four in total).

I'm embarrassed and somewhat ashamed to admit that I missed the point of the book!  Or if I didn't miss it, that it seemed to leave my mind rather quickly.  The book of Jonah is about something I've discussed often on this blog - obedience to God!  How did I lose sight of that??

Here's what our pastor, Josh Surratt, had to say on the subject (just hitting the key points he made in yesterday's message):

God often asks you to do things that we don't want to do.  (Jonah 1:1-2)
God told Jonah to go to Nineveh.  This was not good.  Jonah had no desire to do this.  Pastor Josh said that we come to these intersections in our life where our desire crosses God's will - it is a test of our obedience to God.  He said that our way isn't necessarily bad, but God's way is best.

You can always find a boat going in the wrong direction.  (Jonah 1:3)
Jonah found a boat that would take him in a direction away from Nineveh - away from where God wanted him to go.  Pastor Josh said that we are always going to find other options for doing something other than go in the direction where God wants us to go.  On top of that, we will always find people to agree with our choice!  So why choose the "wrong boat"?  Pastor Josh suggested such reasons as selfishness, fear, pride, and the fact that it's simply easier to do so.

God may send a storm to grab your attention.  (Jonah 1:4)
Pastor Josh quoted this: "God loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to let you stay there."  He sends storms into our lives to get our attention.  Our pastor said "When we handle our storms in the right way, people can get saved in the process."  Think about that!

God probably has an unexpected way forward for you.  (Jonah 1:17, 2:10)
Here's what our pastor had to say about this: "God is not limited in His options to deliver you from your storms.  All we have to do is do our part - come clean, repent, stop running...It might leave a mess but don't let that stop you from doing what God has called us to do."

A friend of mine wrote a guest post on another friend's blog a while back.  It was asking the question "Where is your Nineveh?"  At the time, I hadn't read Jonah.  I didn't fully "get" the post, although I really appreciated her words.  That post has been on my mind for months now.  Just gnawing at the back of my mind all this time.  I was sure there was a reason, but didn't know. Well, after yesterday's message at church, I think I know!

I have a task.  I need to really pray about this.  I know in my heart that I probably have many Ninevehs in my life.  My problem right now is that I don't know exactly what they are.  I think if we're all being honest, we all have a Nineveh or two (or more) in our life.  That is to say, there is something in our life that God is calling us to that for whatever reason, we feel compelled to run away from.  I honestly think I really need to take some quiet reflection time soon - grab my Bible and a journal and just spend some quality time with God asking Him to clarify what mine are.  I think my mind is so filled with so much stuff that's been going on in my life to really notice.  I often have a hard time shutting my brain off!  I also know that the answers I am seeking as to what my Ninevehs are is probably staring me right in the face and I'm missing it!

The other problem is this - I have a number of areas of concern - causes I'd love to get involved in.  I want to get involved.  But I always have (I'll be honest) an excuse in Peyton as to why I can't do this or that.  It's a legitimate excuse, isn't it??  Lord knows, raising a special needs and medically fragile child is surely doing God's work, isn't it??  Or am I using Peyton as that "wrong boat" to take me away from doing something God might be calling me to?  Maybe one of these causes is really a passion that I just haven't developed because I'm not allowing myself to.  Is that possible??

So, as I go into this new week, I'm going to be spending a lot of time thinking about what my Ninevehs are and what I can do about it!

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