Saturday, May 17, 2008

It's Not Just a Kid's Story

Most of us have heard of the story of Jonah and the "whale". My pastor began a four-week series on the book of Jonah last Sunday. As I read the short book in preparation of the coming Sundays, I reflected how I and probably many of you feel like Jonah. We all have times where we have either ran from God or slowly drifted from Him. My slow drift from God in previous years combined with other things has caused me to feel like I'm in a fish...or rather I was in a fish prior to this last year.

Are you running from God? Do you remember a time when you did? Is God telling you to do something and you're ignoring Him by running in the opposite direction? Jonah took a boat in the exact opposite direction of what God told him to do (Jonah 1:3). The longer we run, the worse it will be for us in the long term. Turn, follow what God is telling you and receive His blessing and know His pleasure in your obedience. I have discovered myself the joy of obedience and being awakened to my drifting from God. I now relish in the pleasure, purpose, and plan of my Father. Oh to have the pleasure of our Father!!!!

Jonah ran from God and God loved him (and us) too much to let him just "get away". God will never let His children stray too long or too far. God does not tell us to do things and be obedient to Him out of dictatorship but rather out of ever-so-deep love and concern for us. He knows the big picture and He knows why it's so important for us to follow what He is telling us. We must heed to His commands. If we continue to refuse to listen, He will send a storm to get our attention. Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. Jonah 1:4. Even then, Jonah was having a pity party. He didn't "catch on" to God's awakening. Rather he told his sailors to throw him into the sea.

Is that what you do when God sends great winds and storms into your life? Do you feel like dying and giving up since things can't get any worse? I can honestly say that I have been there but the Lord has truly restored me!!! Don't give up but rather refocus your mind, heart, and soul. Plant your eyes upon the Lord and let Him guide you through the storm! Respond to God's attempt to wake you and turn your path toward obeying His call. God gave me a "wake up" moment. He changed my life forever but I am still waiting for the "final" outcome. Unfortunately, it took an extremely painful and heartbreaking event for me to see the Light and understand my actions regarding another person and most importantly what I had done to God by slowly drifting from Him.

As terrible as the winds and storms can be, allow them to be an wonderful awakening for you. Don't opt for jumping overboard and giving up. God has great things in store for us but we must be obedient to Him and follow what He is telling us. When in doubt, always consult His Word.

Jonah was prideful and he thought he knew better than God. He professed to worship God yet he willing went on his own. He answered, "I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land." Jonah 1:9 Have you ever done this? Let me guess it didn't end well and it never will. We can deceive ourselves for a time that it will be okay or that it IS okay, but it's not. I've been there and pray I'll never be there to the degree I was in the past. We must be aware that this can happen without intently running from God but slowly drifting to the point of waking one moment and seeing the devastation of how far we've drifted.

But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah and Jonah was in the fish for three days and three nights. Jonah 1:17 Can you imagine being in that fish with the muck, bile, and other carcasses of fish? I too have been in that great fish at a point in my life when I was covered in muck, never felt I could get 'fresh air', and totally consumed and surrounded by negative things pulling me down further. The dangers of slowly drifting from God: it's so slow we don't even know it's happening, it's so hard to hear God's voice, and we can't imagine God could or would change us. It is in the belly of the fish that Jonah prayed out to God. He said: "In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. Jonah 2:2-3 That is indeed what I did but it wasn't while in the belly of my fish (my muck) but afterwards during Gods' awakening. I challenge you to do the same. Do it before the storm gets so fierce the you beg to be thrown over because that would be better.

Jonah 2:4-6a I said, 'I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.' The engulfing waters threatened me,the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. That described me. I felt I had disappointed God and was banished from His sight. The engulfing waters consumed me, seaweed choked me, and I sank ever so deep. But we see in verse 6b that God brought up Jonah's life. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God. He brought up my life also and He can/will bring up yours also. Jonah 2:7 "When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple." How sweet those words. My sentiments exactly. My life was "ebbing away", God awakened me, and I turned my eyes to Him.

Let me say that all I describe concerning my experience was not a pre-Christ experience but rather it is something I endured during my walk with Christ. I tell you this because as Christians we are not exempt from during such things even in our walk with God.

At some point in your life you have, are, or will disobey God. You will turn a deaf's ear to what you know He is telling you. As Christians I believe we know when we are ignoring God but may be so deep into our flesh that we can convince ourselves it's okay or not that bad. You may turn a deaf's ear to His gentle knock but be assured if His knock is not answered He will allow winds and storms to get your attention so that you'll open that door and follow His instructions. Our God is good and extremely loving and forgiving. Put aside your pride and seek Him and you'll be blessed beyond your wildest dreams. Been there, done that, and He spewed me out of my fish only to see Him change me and bless me.

Be Blessed in Him,

19 comments:

Linda said...

Paula, just a quick note (I'm at the library, supposedly writing, but I had to check my comments!) to say that I don't live in Madison, although I've been there, and it's beautiful. I'm in Muncie, and yeah, I'm very honored to work with Oneighty.

Kelley said...

You know what? This is exactly how I feel about raising my teenagers right now. Like having someone throw me overboard because I can't do it anymore! Of course I keep pluggin along but there have been lots of days I look up and say, "OK GOD, I'm ready, take me now..."

Thanks for the reminder that we are to faithfully walk where God leads and He has led me to raising these children, from birth to beyond!

Have a great weekend!

GOD'S LADIE said...

Thanks for another great post! I have beent thru a Jonah time and it was quite horrible but when I yielded and submitted myself to GOD, oh what a change. Thanks for reminding us "to obey is better than sacrifice"...

God BLess,
LaTonya

skoots1mom said...

love love love it...you are so right. I run many times from God thinking I know better and not wanting to take the time to have that quiet, personal time. I truly believe WE MUST spend intentional quiet time with Him or else we're just "playing" christian to appease our conscience rather than really communicating with Him. Just like when my teenager gives me those quick answers at the end of her school day, just to get me to quit asking questions. You know, when I asked what they did in school, I get, "oh, nothing" or "nothing new" , or my favorite, "I don't remember"...now I know those teachers are putting a lot of time into their lessons and trying to reach them...so, on those days of short answers I have to remember how I was in high school. Then I ask the questions she'll answer, "So what girlfriend had an interesting story today?" or "what was the funniest thing that happened today?" Then, sometimes I get a more thorough answer and it helps me understand her friends and situations better.

God often asks us those uncomfortable questions, too, and then He gets our attention by asking us a different question that catches our ear.
Lord, give us all a "want" to share our days with you, even if our first answer is "oh, nothing".
Amen

Melanie said...

Great post, Paula! Something that we all need to remember.

KELLY said...

Hey, girl. I am still around...been really busy - and honestly, a little addicted to Facebook lately....ha! ha!

Those Yum Yum Brownies turn out more like cake...but, they are SO good..and easy!

Joyfulsister said...

Just wanted to say I really enjoyed my visit to your blog, and I will be back to read more, Keep writing from the heart for it blesses those who come to read it.. Aloha Lorie

Joanne said...

Paula,

This is one of my absolute favorite books in the Bible. Thank you so much for the reminder of being obedient to what the Lord hs called me to do.

I needed to hear that tonight.

Blessings, Joanne

Edge of Design said...

Been there, done that a time or two. It's not a fun place to be is it? Recover seems to take what seems like forever too at times, yes? Thanks for visiting my blog Paula. I appreciate your comment too.

Sheryl said...

Great post, Paula! I ran from God for many years (quite some time ago) but He was faithful to be right where I left Him awaiting my return.

I owe you an email. Things are a bit crazy here right now but I've got some things to share with you.

Keep writing, God is using you,
Sheryl

Joyfulsister said...

Paula. Thanks for your visit to my blog, Just reading what you shared about the 31 day prayer challenge, and how you continue to pray for your husband, truly touched my heart dear sister. The faith that the Lord has instilled within you is mighty and I know with God all things are possible, One of the ladies who has joined me in this prayer challenge just lost her husband a few weeks ago, but she still joined in and part of her healing is to still be able to pray for him just as if he were still here with her. Paula I'm standing in the gap with you, and also believing with you in prayer, in accordance to his will, believing that God will do a mighty healing and restoration in both you and you DH. Please join us and be a part of this prayer, I will also enter your name in, I would love you to taste some of our delicious chocolates. I would love to put your blog as part of my sister sites so others can come to read and be blessed as weel. Hugz Lorie

skoots1mom said...

thanks for visiting my site...i'm still learning about all this...have only been posting since February.
:)

JnL4God said...

Paula,
I Tried to send you an email and it wouldn't go thru. any problems that you know of? I'll try to resend in the morning, just lettingyou know that I'mstill praying for you and Chris.]
Lynn

Joanne said...

Paula,

Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog today. I am so happy that it touched your heart. Your prayer request is being filled by me this evening.

I would have emailed you but don't have your email address.

Blessings, Joanne

JnL4God said...

Paula,
I got your e-mail and tried to e-mail back but it came back again. I don't know what the deal is! Have a great day. I'm praying for you.
Hugs,
Lynn

Tracy said...

Paula,
Thank you for your kind comment letting me know about the prize on Elaine's site...I felt my eyes grow wide when I read it! Very exciting. = )

Thanks also for what you shared on your last comment. I love those reminders from the Lord and I love hearing about the ways He blesses others, too. So encouraging to know He loves us and cares about so many (big and little) things that matter to us.

This post was wonderful! I've definitely been there and I'm praying with all I have that my son remains faithfully committed to Christ and doesn't make the same mistakes I did in turning away from God for a season. Praise the Lord He relentlessly pursues us!

Blessings,
Tracy

Natalie said...

I'm not sure how I found your blog but I am so glad I did. The pictures on your side bar are magnificent! I could not take my eyes off of them!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Thank you, Paula, for your insightful thoughts on Jonah. How often has my life been along a similar path?! Thankfully, I'm now running toward God and not from him. Perhaps its age, but mostly I like to think its the growth that comes from a deliberate, obedient, daily walk with Him. Left to myself, I'll run far and long from his reach.

Glad I could help you today. Let me know if you need anything further.

peace~elaine

JnL4God said...

Hey my friend thanks for the comments on the post. Yes I know what you mean. God doesn't bring the trials to grow us but if we come to Him during a trial He will definatly work at bringing us closer to him.
God and I had a talk about you and Chis this morning. Boy are the two of you going to have a tetimony when this is over.

Have a great evening,
Love,
Lynn