There is a song with the words, “The safest place in the whole wide world is in the will of God.” How true those words are! When called by God, the best thing to do is to answer Him.
You may be frightened, unsure of yourself, and filled with questions. It is okay. It is the repercussion of not answering God’s call that we should be most fearful about like Jonah tried to run from his calling. The Lord was asking Jonah to do a difficult task. Before we judge Jonah, let us take a moment to recognize that he was human too. It takes great faith to serve the Lord! Jonah was commissioned to go into one of the most sinful regions and minister the gospel. Again, Jonah did not volunteer to become a message-carrier. Isn’t the Lord awesome? The part where Jonah was to deliver the word, was one of an irrefutable reputation.
I am an oldies television buff. I can watch TV Land or Nick at Night twenty-four hours straight, if time permitted me. During an old episode of Good Times, a detective wanted to use the Evans’s phone to call a cab. Immediately, the Evans’ began to laugh riotously. The detectives were baffled by their odd behavior. The Evans’ knew the type of neighborhood they lived in. That time of the night, no cabs were going or coming in that neighborhood. The neighborhood had a reputation of high crimes and robbery, so if you didn’t want to become a victim, you stayed away! Well, this is similar scenario of Nineveh’s sin, where Jonah didn’t want to go to such a place so he ran.
Are you running from the call or your assignment? We all know the story of Jonah. He ran from not only his ministry, but from a direct assignment from God. Jonah’s running endangered those around him. Running from the will of God brings about storms. Therefore, Jonah who recognized God’s signature in the storm also realized that he was jeopardizing the lives of others on the boat. So he asked the sailors to toss him overboard. A fish then swallowed him completely.
In this place of darkness for three days, Jonah sought the Lord for forgiveness, and accepted his calling. Jonah 2:2 reads, “And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.” Jonah spent three days in hell. There comes a point in a person’s life that you go to a place where you must make a decision. Jonah didn’t become bitter, or angry. What he did was surrender his will to that of God. It was time to stop running and deal with his issue. Jonah’s time shortened from a three-day journey into one. Talk about being on fire for God. Jonah made a repentive decision in his the storm; a storm which ensued because he ran from his calling. What was Jonah feeling? He felt the same way anyone else does when they are running from the call of God. I believe Jonah was feeling:
We all fear the unknown. We ask, “What is going to happen to me.” “How will the people receive the word?” So many “what ifs.” If we focus on the “what ifs,” then doubt and fear sets in. You have to fortify yourself with the Word of the Lord. I know that sounds so familiar, but it is the truth. The Word of God works and also the key ingredient to the recipe of serving the Lord.
The Bible warns us that we “should take no thought.” Don’t focus on the negative reports. Learn to wholly trust God. Just do it! Jonah focused on what ifs, and in Jonah’s defense, it is quite easy to do. It takes great faith to serve God.
“For without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).
Never give up. Continue to trust and believe God and so shall it be unto you. Let’s go get it!
(Editor’s note: Vanessa Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)