Focal passages: Jonah 1:1-3, 17; 3:1-5, 10; 4:5-11
Growing up, I decided neither to marry a farmer nor a preacher.
How I was reared by one and married the other is beyond me.
When Jack and I met, he was running from God, preparing to teach science.
By the time we married, he had surrendered to God’s call to the ministry.
In those days we attended the Southern Baptist Convention annually.
I was especially inspired by the commissioning service for missionaries. When the speaker appealed to us to surrender for foreign missions, I gazed at Jack for his reaction.
Sensing my stare, he whispered, “I’m called to pastoral ministry in America.”
Years later, I confessed that I didn’t turn complete control of my life over to God for fear He’d say, “Gotcha! Pack your bags; you’re going to Africa as a missionary and eat spinach three times a day.”
“Don’t worry,” Jack said. “I don’t think God would invest in sending you to Africa.
“If He called you, you’d be so excited that your bags would already be packed.”
Jonah 1:1 says, “The word of the Lord came to Jonah: Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because their wickedness has confronted me.”
Not wanting the Ninevites saved because they were enemies of the Jews, Jonah fled to Tarshish, Spain.
Does kinship with Jonah lie dormant within us all?
Of course, we don’t run for the same reasons Jonah ran.
Perhaps we run passively, forgetting that we are indeed missionaries, witnessing for Christ daily by what we are, what we say, and all we do.
The key to obeying God’s will is to walk close enough to Him to hear His voice.
Should He call today, how might we respond?
“Sorry, I’m not available to take your call.”
“May I put you on hold?”
Or simply hang up?
Looking back upon life, we’re certain that at times we acted within God’s will.
At other times, we confess to running alongside Jonah, away from God. But we’ve sought and followed God’s will enough times to verify what E. Stanley Jones said: “Outside the will of God we cannot succeed; inside His will we cannot fail.”
You and I have today.
That’s all anyone has. Through ordinary ways of serving God, we can experience extraordinary living. See you in Nineveh!