The Jonah In Your Boat

JonahMost of us know the story of Jonah and the big fish.  Jonah was a man on the run from God, and wanted nothing to do with the will of God.  As he was on a ship trying to run away, a storm sent by God (that will upset someone’s theology), began to endanger all aboard the boat.  Jonah told them the answer was to throw him overboard.  The men did not want to throw him overboard, so they tried to row Jonah out of the storm.  The longer Jonah stayed on board and out of God’s will, the more tumultuous the storm became for EVERYONE on board.  Finally, the only answer was that Jonah had to be thrown overboard.

Let’s look at a few quick takeaways from Jonah:

  1. Running from God opens the door for a tumultuous life. Life is difficult enough, but it is faulty thinking, when one thinks I can do it on my own.
  2. When God is dealing with people who are running away from Him, stop trying to row them out of God’s dealings. Often the storm is from God, so an individual can see that bad choices can ruin a life.  Parents, we do this so often with our children!  We try to row them out of consequences.
  3. There are times in life that we might need to throw a relationship overboard, so God can deal with the person, and calm can return to our lives. This is not a decision that should be made lightly, but there are times it is necessary.  As a matter of fact, the soldiers did it as a last resort.  They first threw all their cargo overboard.
  4. God can speak to and restore those that are overboard. If you read the short book of Jonah, you will find that it only took a few days in the water and in the fish, for Jonah to realize this was not what he wanted for his life.  The Bible records that Jonah began to communicate with God, and God got Jonah back on course.

Take a good look at your life today.  Are you trying to outrun the will of God?   Are there people you are trying to row out of the dealings of God? Are there things that need to be thrown overboard so the waters of life can become calmer?   That might include relationships, or other things.

Perhaps this seems like a harsh word today. It’s really not.  It shows a God who is in hot pursuit of us.  He does not easily let us go our own way, and even when we do, He keeps His hand upon us.    God could have just let Jonah die, but God pursued Jonah.    The Bible actually says God “appointed” the fish to save His prophet.

Beloved, God is pursuing you today!   He never gives up on you.  There will be appointed things along the way saying, “Come on back.”

“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice” (Jonah 2:2).

Laying It Down To Pick It Up

Lay-it-DownTwo-and-a-half-year-old Andrew Benton loves life.  When this grandson of ours visits, he wants nonstop play and activity.

Recently Andrew had a large toy in each hand, and saw another that he wanted.  He could not pick up the new toy,  because he wasn’t willing to lay down what was already in his hands.  He fussed, tried to figure out how to do it, but to no avail.  I kept saying to Andrew, “Lay it down, so you can pick up what you desire.”  But, no, no, no!  Andrew never did pick up what was before him, because he was not willing to release the grip on what he thought was so precious.

Andrew was overloaded with his own stuff.

One of the greatest enemies of walking in what God has for us, is holding on to things that we need to lay down.  Here are some thoughts:

  • Let’s lay down the failures of the past, things we cannot change, and walk in the new day God gives us. This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice in today!
  • Let’s lay down the disappointment of Church folks, and become a vital part of a local church.  The oyster puts up with the irritant of sand, and winds up with a pearl.
  • Let’s lay down the hurts that are suffocating us, and release them to God.
  • Let’s lay down the negative self-images, and thank God for who He made us to be.
  • Let’s lay down wishing we had a certain gift, and pick up the anointed gift God has given us.  There are miracles in every anointed gift that God bestows.
  • Let’s lay down bad, harsh attitudes, and pick up joy.
  • Let’s lay down Facebook and other media, and pick up the Word of God.
  • Let’s lay down a wagging tongue, and pick up words that heal and offer hope.

I could go on and on.  We all fight these kinds of battles, and it’s easy to hold on to these things.  The power is in releasing stuff that keeps us from walking through the open door God has for us. As a great  Bill Gaither song says:

In the things familiar we find security
Resisting all the changes that days and years can bring
When God decides to lead you through an open door
Inviting you to walk in realms you’ve never known before

Beyond the open door is a new and fresh anointing
Hear the Spirit calling you to go
Walk on through the door for the Lord will go before you
Into a greater power you’ve never known before.

“Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress …” (Hebrews 12:1b NLT)