The directive was simple.
“Go into the land and preach repentance.” Simple right? Go where you’re told to go and tell the people to stop their foolish ways and follow God.
You’ve probably guessed by now that I’m talking about our good friend, Jonah, from the Bible and BEFORE you stop reading and dismiss the rest of this text, BEFORE you say, “I’ve heard this story a million times from vacation Bible school,” I entreat you to keep reading. Here’s why:
We tend to oversimplify Jonah and his journey. Many of us look at his story and roll our eyes with indignation that God gave Jonah such a simple task and Jonah chose not to obey. Surely he deserved that punishment of enduring the belly of a fish, we think to ourselves. We look at Jonah and think, how dare he NOT go preach and do what God asked of him. We say to ourselves, I would have done what God said in a heartbeat.
But would you?
Jonah’s command from God was to go and preach repentance. What was the last thing God told YOU to do? Was it to buy the groceries of the person in line behind you at the store but you refused because you made your bank account your god instead of listening to the actual voice of God entreating you to bless someone? You looked at their cart, made a mental tally of your bank account and walked out of the store not even giving God’s directive to you a second or third thought.
Maybe God told you to call a person this week. They kept crossing your mind and you kept thinking, “I’ll call her when I get off work,” or “I’ll check on him after the kids go to sleep.” Days pass and you still haven’t followed the command God gave you. How do you know that phone call that keeps pressing your heart to make is not the difference between someone knowing they’re loved and holding on or them taking their lives because they felt invisible and unloved?
Did you write out your tithe check and feel the Lord telling you to sow a $100 offering in addition to that? Did you dismiss it and swear it was just you imagining things?
So you’re reading this and you’re saying, none of these categories apply to me, Alexis. Okay, fine. What about that person that God told you to forgive. The one that hurt you, the one that walked away, the one that tarnished your innocence? What about the one that lied on you, broke your heart or stole something of value? What about the parent who never told you they love you, the boss that mistreated you or the person who you may NEVER hear the words, “I’m sorry” from? The Word tells us in countless verses that our responsibility is to forgive. Is THAT your Jonah moment?
Dear reader, I’ve come to understand that we ALL have Jonah moments, and though, as we grow in our walk with God our Jonah moments come less often, we all still have them.
My former pastor used to always say the definition of obedience is: doing WHAT you’re told, WHEN you’re told and doing it with the RIGHT ATTITUDE.
So, even IF you immediately acted on the directive God gave you, did you do it with a pleasant attitude? And I’m not just talking about are you smiling on the outside. I mean, on the inside, in your heart, the part that only God sees, you are a glad servant trusting that if God is giving you an assignment He knows what’s best? Or were you begrudging in your heart and wondering why God picked you or why He told you to do that or complaining internally that that doesn’t make sense? And IF you’ve got the “right attitude” part down, what about the “when?” Are you hesitating? Are you saying, “God I hear you telling me to bless them but I gotta wait until 2 paydays from now?” “God I know you told me to write that book, but I have to wait until I have 1000 followers first or more in my savings account.” “God I know you told me last night to end this relationship TODAY but we had plans to go to dinner tonight, so maybe after dinner, I’ll break up with them.” And then dinner turns into 6 more months of toxic relationship and when it finally does end you’re sitting there dumbstruck wondering why you hung in there so long. That business he told you to start? That friend He told you to unfollow?
Yeah, Jonah, I’m talking to you.
We are so self-righteous and find it so easy to look at this ancient Bible story and say, “Oh no that couldn’t be me.” Surprise. It’s you. And me. Any our cousins. And our aunties. And our neighbors. It’s all of us! We recite the tale of Jonah to our children, encouraging them to walk in obedience when we ourselves were not obedient with the last Word God gave us……
So, dear reader, now that we’ve established that we all have some Jonah working in us and have all encountered Jonah moments, what do we do now? I’m glad you asked.
Find quiet time to day to search your heart and ask the Lord if He has given you instruction, assignment, direction and you knowingly or unknowingly overlooked it or disobeyed it. Ask Him to bring it back to your remembrance.
Repent. Apologize to the Lord for missing the mark.
DO IT! Whatever that last Word was that He gave you, He is watching over it, waiting for you to be faithful over that task so He can give you the next one! Do you know how many lives are counting on you to do what God told you to do?
Strive harder! Remember obedience is doing WHAT you’re told WHEN you’re told and doing it with the RIGHT attitude. Ask God to give you an attentive ear when He is speaking and feet that walk PROMPTLY by faith in whatever direction He sends you.
I pray that you are blessed in every single endeavor, big or seemingly “small,” that God gives you. I truly believe that if we are faithful over the small things He makes us ruler of the big things. I’m ready to let go of my Jonah moments and the best I can be for God’s glory and I believe you are too!