We are Not Always Emotionally and Spiritually Up
Life isn’t always moving in an upward direction. Sometimes, life disappoints us, and we feel like we are falling. How do I keep my faith in hard times? How do we fight the good fight of faith? Sometimes, it’s hard to trust. Isn’t it?
We Have Deep Questions of the Soul
Have you ever wondered how you can maintain your faith when you have a painful journey where you have no choice but to walk it through? What happens when you are faced with a journey you just WON’T take?
What happens when what you want and what God wants are At Odds? Jonah in the Bible, was at odds with the Lord and fled from Him.
The word of the Lord came to Jonah, son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord. Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid, and each cried out to his own god… Jonah 1:1-5 NIV
The storms of life—hard times—have a way of putting things into perspective. How can we discover our life’s direction? Well, your life always follows your more frequent:
Therefore, the results are predictable!
In the case of Jonah, he was distracted by his thoughts. Jonah was so caught up with what he thought was best, that it placed him at odds with eternity—God‘s plan for his life. He was at odds with God!
We are at odds all the time. The truth is, there are many things we want that are often at odds with what God wants.
- He wants time to be with us, and to talk to us, but we often choose distractions.
- He wants us to live in peace with others, but we often find ourselves in conflict.
- He wants us to think in biblical ways, but we often self-reject and put down ourselves and others.
Being Busy: The First Barrier to Our Calling
- We live busy, distracted lives.
- We have no time.
We move around in our very busy lives, often unaware of eternity. What is so easy to miss in the busyness and distractions is eternity and your role in it. You miss:
- What God has for you
- His plans for your life
- Your role in history
- How you contribute to something real, eternal
You become like Jesus when you serve!
The story of the disobedient prophet.
- God wanted to send Jonah to Nineveh to preach against its sins and call them to repentance.
- He ran from God.
- God wanted to convict Nineveh to bring about their repentance.
- Jonah, filled with hatred toward Nineveh, wanted to bring about judgment for them.
Different Directions = Different Outcomes
When at odds with God, we are positioned to go in a different direction than His Will and outcomes. Disobedience changes our destination. It takes you on a GPS journey in the wrong direction that always gets you the wrong results, i.e. hard times (valleys) created by busyness and opposition.
- He was thrown overboard.
- He was left to die.
- He was willing to die because he had nothing left.
Outcome of running
There are consequences of running from His Will:
- Being distant from God
- Not fulfilling your calling
- Feeling insignificant
- Never reaching your potential
- Being stricken with guilt, shame, and regrets
- Missed opportunities
Our will always pushes us in the direction furthest from God’s purpose for our lives. Surrender draws eternity closer. Surrender pulls your greatest purpose closer.
- Jonah brought a curse to the ship and those in it.
Wrong and Right People
The wrong people around you will bring a curse into your life. Walk with the right people, they will bring a blessing into your life. You need to walk with the right people, and become a right person others should walk with, and be blessed by you.
We bless or curse each other by what we carry into each other’s lives.
- We call it baggage—Spiritual baggage
People who are running from God aren’t bringing a blessing into your life, they bring a curse. Its called projection. People will project upon you and into you what they are allowing into their own lives. We are a reflection very often of those around us.
Judgment or not?
Jonah was swallowed up by a really big fish. Was this God’s judgment upon him or was it something else?
Some consequences aren’t judgment, instead, they bring correction to us. Jonah’s fish was not a judgment on him. The fish was a redirection of Jonah’s journey.
Correction brings about new opportunities; however, in its ultimate sense, judgment is final.
The “Fish” of Redirection
The “fish” is love and correction. The “fish” is bringing you back to your assignment—God’s direction to you.
We buck the system because we want to serve God and our comfort, too. Or we want our comfort, instead of what God wants. Sometimes, what God wants conflicts with what I want. That’s where Jonah was at.
And you were at that place, as well, every time you chose disobedience over obedience. The “fish” comes in the form of a consequence, an outcome, or a correction. The journey in “the belly of the fish” ends with surrender.
What has been your “fish”?
The fish in this story was essential to getting back on the right track. To protect Jonah from a worse fate. God uses natural consequences to draw you back from a worse fate.
There are Good News!
God is committed to you! Your calling is irrevocable—not able to be changed, reversed, or recovered; final. He still wants you. I don’t know why, but He does. He is more committed to our future than we are!
He will reestablish you.
The End of the Story!
The fish spits Jonah out on the shore. Jonah is angry at God‘s compassion for the people of Nineveh.
Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. Jonah 3:10 NIV
The Outcome: Life
Jonah’s opposition was going to bring about death and destruction. Nevertheless, his obedience brought a blessing. His surrender would bring about life and blessings for the whole city of Nineveh.
- Opposition to God brought a curse to the boat.
- Surrender to God brought blessings to a city.
Get out of the Valley
Three options for when we are At Odds with God:
- Turn and run from God, and miss His purpose for your life.
- Be handed over to your desires, and face the consequences.
- Surrender to God and obey Him, and walk in His calling and favor for your life.
Responses and their Outcomes
You see, every outcome you have in your life is in response to every direction you took. Look at your life and ask, How in the world did I get here?
- It was because of your choices.
Likewise, ask, How do I get to where God wants me to be?
- Also, with your choices
Do you want the favor of God? His favor follows your obedience.
What area of your life do you need to get right?
- Your thought life
- Your behavior
- Your impulses
- Your habits
- Your desires
The Scriptures say:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 NIV“As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord”Joshua 24:15 NIV
That’s what repentance does, it resolves opposition and it is a constant that brings back one’s heart to the Lord.
The psalmist said,
“Forgive my hidden faults [even what I forgot].” Psalms 19:12 NIV