I can identify so well with Jonah. I frequently find myself making the same choice that Jonah made. He heard instructions from God and he chose to go the other way. I sometimes find myself making the choice to put off what God is directing me to do. I may not use the same method as Jonah. I don’t physically run away. But it’s avoidance just the same.
My methods are more subtle. Procrastination, excuses as to why I must have misunderstood God’s direction or even telling myself it wasn’t really God speaking to me in the first place. I’ve run from confrontation. I’ve run from communication. I’ve run from responsibility.
All is not lost though. I usually come around. And when I finally feel exhausted from running and I finally obey God I am still like Jonah. I find it easy to get frustrated if the outcome of my obedience isn’t what I expected it to be. God, I finally submitted and did what you asked and THIS is the outcome? Shouldn’t it have turned out differently?
I wish I could say that when I sense the Lord leading me to do something I always obey quickly without question. But, there is so much Jonah alive and well in me. If only I could trust the results to God.
The story of Jonah doesn’t end with Jonah’s disappointment about the outcome of Nineveh. In the book of Matthew Jesus speaks of Jonah.
Matthew 12:41 “the men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah. And behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”
When Jonah finally obeyed God, God caused the city to be saved. The reason those men of Nineveh can stand in judgment is that they are with God because Jonah preached to them and they repented. There is still hope for us modern day Jonahs. God can still use us if we are willing to submit to His guidance. He also wants us to be willing to accept the outcome and know that His ways don’t always measure up to our expectations.
The truth is, God will far exceed our expectations if we let Him have His way in our lives. And we won’t have to spend time in the belly of a fish.