A Time of Reflection: Jonah and His Journey of Obedience to God’s Call
Have you ever prayed, “Lord, May Your will be done.” Many women over the years have said to us, “I don’t know how to pray, so I just pray for God’s ‘will’ to be done.”
Jonah knew the will of the Lord, but rebelled against it. Even Jesus asked for the will of God to be changed. Let’s look at this common prayer: “Not my will but thy will be done…”
Looking at Jonah, we find a prophet of the Lord who understood that the Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity (Jonah 4:2).
Jonah got on a boat to flee from the will of God, an opposite direction, only to find himself threatening the lives of those around him because of his lack of obedience. A violent storm arose and all the sailors were afraid, (Jonah 1:4-5) while Jonah fell into a deep sleep below deck (Jonah 1:5). As the men cried out, Jonah knew that he was the problem and told the men to throw him overboard. Reluctant to believe this could be God’s will, they listened to Jonah, picked him up and threw him into the sea (Jonah 1:12). The winds died down, the sailors praised God, and a “great fish” was sent to save Jonah’s life (Jonah 1:17).
It was in this great fish that the noise of the outside world stopped. Jonah’s ability to run from God’s will stopped, his rebellion stopped. From inside the great fish, Jonah did three things:
- He embraced God’s compassion and abounding love, as evidenced in his prayer (Jonah 2:1-7).
- He worshiped. “But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to You.” (Jonah 2:9)
- He promised to fulfill his vow to be obedient to the Lord, regardless of his own personal opinions (Jonah 2:9).
Jonah was sent on his missionary trip in the strangest way (via fish express), but he kept his vow. The people of Nineveh repented and turned from their evil ways, Jonah was angry. He did not want Nineveh to receive God’s love and compassion, yet he selfishly was grateful for God showing compassion for him.
When we really know God’s will, we have a difficult time accepting it, because it is only through the strength of the Spirit of God that His will can be fulfilled in us. In the garden, Jesus prayed for another way besides the cross. He understood the will of God, but then Jesus surrendered to the Father’s will and said, “Here I am, I have come to do Your will” (Hebrews 10:9). Today, we are saved through faith, because of the sacrifice of Jesus who was obedient to His Father, God’s will.
Like Jonah, we often learn the hard way of not wanting to accept God’s will. God’s will doesn’t look like the world’s ways and obedience can be painful. In the hurt, we die to ourselves so the abundant love and compassion of Christ can shine through us.
May you be the “light” that shines throughout the new year. We pray for you to desire obedience in following God’s will, out of your love for Him, through studying His Word and believing in faith that He will show you His love, compassion and mercy in all that you do.