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God Does What He Pleases (Jonah 1)

A lot of us claim to be followers of God. We may believe we would follow him anywhere.

For many of us, that belief never gets tested. We never really know whether we would follow God anywhere, because we never get asked to go someplace we really wouldn’t like to go.

Jonah wasn’t one of those people.

Jonah was a prophet. That means that he heard directly from God and passed those messages on to others. He was a minister to the people, telling them what God’s desire was and what God wanted them to do.

One day, the bomb dropped.

“Go to Nineveh.”

Excuse me? Why would you want me to do that?

“Their evil has come up before me.”

We probably don’t read those words right. We don’t realize what God is calling Jonah to.  Nineveh was full of sworn enemies of Israel. They were evil people too. The were known for all their crimes against humanity. God was asking Jonah to announce judgment against them. But, more importantly, God was asking Jonah to be an agent of blessing and mercy.

This would have been wildly unpopular. Jonah was going to have to pull a Lebron James and announce, “I’m taking my talent to Nineveh.” He would have been hated. No one would have understood.

Please don’t miss this. This is kind of like God coming to you and saying, “I want to use you to bless the Taliban.”

So Jonah did what many of us might do if we were tested this way: He ran. He got on the first boat in the opposite direction. He kept going “away from the presence of the Lord” (1.3). Further and further away.

He knew it couldn’t work. But he hoped. So he ran. But God found him and made his life worse. There was a storm that was so bad it threatened his life and the unsuspecting sailors who took him in.

They tried to save him, but they had to throw him overboard. In beautiful irony, the pagan sailors become the theologians and the prophet goes into the waters. The sailors say, “You, Oh Yahweh, have done as it pleased you” (1.14)

The sailors learned whose world this is. There was no use running, fighting, and struggling. They got it when the prophet didn’t. The God of the Hebrews does what he wants.

Do you live life in a way that recognizes what these sailors learned? Do you live life in a way that affirms, “God does what he pleases?” Are you willing to follow him anywhere?

What happens when God calls you to sell all your stuff like the rich young ruler? What if he calls you to love him in the midst of a foreclosure? What happens when you’re relocated to a place you’d rather not be? What about when he calls you to give your own life like he did to St. Ignatius?

What about when he says that you are going to be the main agent of His blessing to an enemy?

God does what he pleases. Does he really have his way with you?

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6 Responses

  1. Good post James!
    I have found in my own life when walking through the hard stuff that it’s about trust. How much do I trust that God is Good and does what is best, even when it feels like the worst. I read yesterday in Psalms that showing trust is obeying Gods word. That was reassuring because even when, in our sinful, shellfish ways, feeling like we don’t know if we can trust God, we can still choose to obey.
    Anyway, just some stuff i’v been thinking about.
    Blessings brother,
    Jenn

  2. Right now, I feel as if I am in the middle of God does what He pleases. Not that it’s “Go to Nineveh” hard, but hard enough. It’s scary out here. It’s out of my control. Obedience can be like that, but up until now, obedience has been almost immediately rewarded with good feelings. Not so much this time.
    God is sovereign, He will reign and I will grow. Not really so much because I choose to, but because I submit to it. He will take me through this and I will be blessed.
    Good thoughts, James!

    • Yeah… those times are a tough and important part of learning to walk with our God. We have to learn to trust our God, sometimes this is extraordinarily difficult. I just prayed for you and will continue to do so.

      • And those prayers are so appreciated. I have actually gotten a group of people to pray for me and send out weekly updates. There are moments that remembering their prayers seems the only thing sustaining me. But, those are just moments; overall it’s not that bad ALL the time.

  3. I always enjoy your posts James! Recently I had the opportunity to “teach” a bit of biblical history in my lighting class at school and chose Jonah. We were suppose to choose a passage of literature or a song to inspire a 9×15 peice of 2D artwork, and then present it. We were to imagine what the light in the “scene” would have been like and create themes to incorporate into our project. I imagined what it would have been like during the storm for the sailers and Jonah with the moonlight being obscured by the storm, lanterns swinging in the wind, shadows dancing on the deck of the boat. Then I imagined what the light was like after the storm with the moon full and shining across the calm water, and Jonah looking up through the seaweed underwater at the moon creating columns of light through water. I talked to the class about how when we deliberately choose not to follow God’s will in our lives, we can expect to experience storms and shadows. When we obey and trust God even when it seems like an impossible path to take, there is a peace and calm in knowing He is in control. When I prepared this assignment I knew this was a bit more than what she requested, but, also felt like God was giving me an opportunity to share Him a little to the class. I think my teacher was surprised (I know she was), and a little taken aback by it. But, she’s been making comments, asking questions (little ones here and there), and testing me in my convictions. I’m counting it all JOY!

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