You know I was leafing through the bible and came across an amazing story I have read 100 times but it hit me in a new and a different way. Don't you just love it when that happens?
Have you ever been called to do something in life? Possibly something you were not exactly crazy about doing? If your answer is yes—then trust me, I know the feeling. But so did a guy named Jonah.
When I read this passage again—it felt like I was reading it for the first time because it occurred to me that Jonah would have been excited about going to Nineveh if he was in some way promised to kill these people (The Ninevites) that he hated. In other words if God killed his enemies then he would have gone to this town to deliver their destruction like a UPS man. If God had told him He was sending locus to destroy their crops he would have gotten to that city faster than bad news.
In the passage Jonah poses an interesting question. He asks God why he is so gracious. So he understands that God is gracious yet he goes on to say “God I would rather die than do what you have asked me to do!” Now keep in mind that he is cognizant that God is good and he adds that he would rather die than to follow His will.
But when you read this passage a little further we notice that he asks God to kill him more than once—yet the only time we see him at peace… is when he is sitting in the shade. Now this is like a lot of people I know, even today. They seem to only find contentment when they are doing absolutely nothing at all. But when times get, tough we find them complaining.
Can you be happy when you are not in the shade?
When the times are not as good?
When the burning heat of problems and frustrations bear down upon you like the dessert sun?
God poses a question to Jonah—but I think he is also talking to us as well. “Do you really have a reason to be upset because the vine died?” Okay let me put it this way. “Do you really have a reason to be upset because the car was repossessed?” “…because your son got caught selling drugs?” “Do you really have a reason to be upset with me?”
In 1941 Forrest Mars, Sr., & Bruce Murrie had a little candy named after them. The name… M&Ms. Now if your name was Joe Mars or Sue Murrie and you were now he president of Mars Inc., would you really cry if you dropped one of the colored chocolate filled goodies? Of course not. Would you have to take the day off from work to pull yourself together? Absolutely not. Would you call your friends to tell them how you were walking and the little red treat fell out of your hand and down into a drain? Well, you just happen to serve the supplier not to M&M Inc., but the very supplier to all that is and shall be. Why should we ever feel lost or without out hope?
So God comes at him with this one. “You mad about a vine that you did not plant a seed for, water, prop up, prune or fertilize? When I got a 100k people waiting to be fed the Word of God? You mad about something you can’t control and refusing to do something you can control?” Dig the logic and apply it to your life. You mad about a relationship—that was outside my will and refusing to do what I have called you to do?
But let’s take out the shovel and dig deeper.
The amazing thing is that Jonah was not acting on a basic level—in a “selfish” manner. It would be like a Black person in the 20’s going to a Mississippi Klan rally. “Seriously God? You want me to go to Biloxi, take the microphone from the Grand Wizard and say, “God wants you all to repent or you going to hell?” Yes you would fear for your own safety but once you get past that you would not want to walk through the Pearly Gates with them. “Come on God… Let them just go to hell!” You’d want to walk them to the gates of hell, make them open the doors, kick them in the middle of their back and spit on them as they fell to eternal damnation. Let’s face it—we are human and that what humans do! We’re pretty darn good at ate and revenge. Two things no one has to go to a Community College to learn how to excel at.
So let’s go back to this story and see what Jonah does.
Instead of going 500 miles north east to Nineveh, he goes 200 miles in a south westerly direction, opposite of where he was supposed to go. But even more important, just like Sampson earlier in the bible, he goes down to a city by the name of Tarshish not because it was what God wanted him to do—but because it’s what he wanted to do. And please note that the bible says he “goes down,” to Tarshish. Whenever you walk away from the call of the Lord and go down, you are truly headed for destruction. When you are attracted to something beneath you and it specifically against the will of God, you’re headed for destruction.
You know when a man, a woman, a job or something you want is beneath you because something within you will tell you, “I ain’t got no business in the bed with this man.” “Why am I even clocking in on this job?” When you feel that in your heart and the feeling sinks deep inside your gut, you too my friend are going down.
So we watch this prophet with the call of God on his life by the name of Jonah and not only go down, but the bible says, he “goes down” and gets on a boat and “goes down” again into the belly of the boat and once he does that, it’s not enough. He goes into a “deep” sleep.
Question? How far can you afford to go down in life before you answer your calling?
In Romans we see that man’s problem is not the “absence of evidence but the suppression of evidence.” So when Jonah notices the storm why didn’t he just say from the beginning that it was because of him and jump overboard? Why did he “ask” them to throw him off the boat? Jonah knows full well why they have gone through what they are going through yet he gives them this moral dilemma. Decency would have caused him to throw himself off the boat. To me it seems as if a part of Jonah hoped that someone would have stood up and defended him. To keep him on the boat. To ride through the storm with him. How many people know they have no right being in your life—know they are taking you through storms you don't need to or deserve to go through? Yet they refuse to just jump off the emotional boat of your life. And on top of that you know she has no business in your car, so let’s not even discuss the fact that you are shopping for rings… yet you find it hard to toss her off the emotional boat of your life.
But with that being said I want you to hold your nose and go deeper with me.
The bible says “there was a storm.” Get it... a storm. We read past that as if it’s just an event but it’s more than that. Nothing in the bible beneath the surface is what it would appear to be. What causes a storm? When I was a kid we would say it’s the Devil beating his wife. (Who knows where that originated?) But in actuality we now know what causes natural storms. In simple terms, storms are caused by the meeting of very cold air with extremely warm air. Think about it. A storm originates when a low pressure system (cold air) is surrounded by a high pressure system (warm air). Small areas of low pressure can form from hot air rising off hot ground. Hot air will rise, and when the hot air collides with cold air, the hot air is forced up over the colder, drier air.
PLEASE STAY WITH ME!!!
Sometimes when the higher calling of an all mighty God comes into contact with the lower desires of a sinful man—a storm will occur and it will often occur on three levels.
The storm we are in: This is the physical storm. The bankruptcy. The unfaithful spouse. Failing in school. The aspect of the storm we can feel.
The storm inside of us: This is the mental storm i.e. the thing that brings us fear. The fear of getting caught. The fear of being homeless. The fear of getting HIV.
And the storm within our souls: This is the part of the conflict that bothers us on a core level. A level so deep even we don’t understand. You know it’s just a late car payment but now you are crying. Why? The storm inside your soul. He just looked at the woman as she passed by. Now you can’t sleep at night. The storm is brewing inside your soul.
I have so much more to share with you on this topic tomorrow so please stay tuned.
Oh yeah... Remember today--this day, is the first day of the rest of your life.