You can’t get around God’s commands. This is a very important lesson; the sooner learned, the sooner spared from much pain and distress. Jonah is in a tight spot, a dark place, a small space. His options have been narrowed down to life and death, and it’s all in God’s hands. Jonah’s decision to take God’s command as optional and to run away from God has landed him exactly where he is. He now prays and cries out to God. It’s really all he has left at this point. Many people today live like Jonah. Instead of following God and being obedient, they expect God to bless them while they refuse to obey God. It doesn’t work that way. They bemoan their situation; yet they, like Jonah, have made the choices that have put them where they are. You may feel that you are in a small space, a dark place, that your options are limited; but perhaps God has you where he wants you! Jonah is exactly where God wants him, and God knows what he’s doing. God has a plan and he’s waiting for Jonah to accept it. God is waiting for you too, even when you find yourself in the storm or in the belly of the whale. You may be only one prayer away from a turning point in your life. What prayer do you need to offer up to God?
Scriptures – Lk 5:4-5, 10; Jo 2:1-10, 3:1-2
From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. (Jo 2:1) “But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. (Jo 2:9-10)
There are some key elements in Jonah’s prayer that helped him get out of his small dark space. The same things can help you get out of your small dark place. First, Jonah was grateful and praised God. It’s hard to praise when times are tough, but if you can praise in the dark situations, you will trust and praise God even more in better times. Jonah promises sacrifice. Sacrifice comes with obedience. God calls us to give. We are to give of ourselves to his service. It won’t always be the thing we want to do. It won’t always be easy. It will require sacrifice. He also calls us to give of our financial resources. Giving financially and blessings are connected. If you want open doors, then open your hands and give. God promises that when we are faithful in giving, he will open the windows of heaven for us. Jonah also promises to keep his vow. His vow is his commitment to obey and honor God. He went back on that vow when he ran from God and disobeyed. Jonah is promising to get back on the right path—the path of obedience. Jonah was vomited onto dry land. He was thrown forward into the will of God, onto the Assyrian shore (Nineveh just happens to be the capital of Assyria). God again tells Jonah to go to Nineveh. Jonah is obedient. His preaching in Nineveh causes the whole city to turn to God. God blessed Jonah’s obedience. He will bless yours!
Are you now or have you ever been in a small, dark place with limited options? Was it because you ran from or opted out of something God was leading you to do? When have you chosen your own way instead of God’s? How did that turn out? When have you chosen God’s way? How did that turn out? How might it have turned out if you hadn’t followed God? How do you see the lives of those around you affected by their choices to either follow or not follow God? Why is a person willing to settle for much less than what God wants for them?
If you are running away from something God wants you to do, turn back and be obedient. To whatever extent you can remedy your bad choices, do so. Pray, as Jonah did. Be grateful and praise God. Give to God…your time, your tithe, your service. Keep your vow to be obedient to God’s commands.
Dear Lord, thank you for waiting on me. Thank you for being there when I finally recognize my bad choices and repent. Thank you for taking me back again and again. Keep me on the right path. Remind me that my vow to be obedient to you is the most important thing. May I focus on your goodness and love and remember all the wonderful blessings you have given me. I know that many more blessings await me as I move forward in obedience. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.