Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord. But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.” And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.
Jonah 1:1-10 ESV Bible Gateway
God’s calling was clear to Jonah – “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it”. Jonah knew exactly where he had to go, but his unwillingness to follow was stronger and louder. He didn’t want to go to Nivevh. Instead, he paid the fare and boarded the ship to somewhere that was completely the opposite and as further away as he could think of from where God commissioned him to go. He was determined to escape from the presence of God! Little did he know that this trip would cost him more than just the fare he paid. Some reasons were suggested by Biblical scholars for Jonah’s escape: 1. Nineveh was a wicked city, and going there might have brought great danger for Jonah; 2. Nineveh and Israel were enemies. Jonah didn’t want the Assyrians in Nineveh to escape God’s judgment.
God commissioned Jonah, He also commanded us. His commands are clearly written in the Bible. However, we may have our very reasons to say “no” to what God calls us to do. A job that doesn’t make sense to us. A job that we don’t think we qualify. Or sometimes a job that just seems impossible for us! Yet, God called us to do it! Our feelings become a strong impulse to turn away from His commission. We think we just know better than God. The evil one would also magnify and make believe that our reasons to deny are higher than God’s calling. But can our disobedient reasons overwrite God’s will? The truth is we can get away from the task, temporarily, but we can’t get away from the presence of God. God caused the storm for Jonah, and ironically, He also used a group of pagan sailors to wake up His prophet, – “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god!” God also may stir up some storms in our life, just so He can wake up our sleeping soul. “The Lord disciplines those He loves” (Proverbs 3:12) God loves us too much to have we go astray! He would graciously orchestrate a way for us to return on track, even when it requires hurling a storm. Yet, the Lord Himself, is also with us in the storm! Today let us praise our Father for His loving disciplines that awake our soul, and His love and grace that strengthen our hands and feet to do what we are called to do.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your presence and unfailing love on me! If my spirit is snoozing, awake it with your rod and staff. Give me the grace and strength to keep going today, and do what I’m called to do.