I mentioned in an earlier blog post about my disobedience. Twice I can recall times in my life where I knew God was telling me to go one direction and I deliberately went the opposite. Now, before you go assuming that I think I’m some high & holy Christian that has only sinned twice in her life, let me correct you. I’m not saying sin – I do that everyday. I’m saying God told me/called me out to do something (in both of my situations to stop doing something) and I deliberately disobeyed.
The first was in 2008 when I know God was calling me to stay at home full-time with Hamilton and quit the job I loved at North Point Ministries. I remember crying to Mark saying I think God wants me to resign from my job. I loved working there. I loved my boss. They offer on-site childcare which was amazing. The insurance benefits were awesome. So I had a plan to sit down with my boss and turn in my resignation. The weekend before my meeting I got a call from Browns Bridge Church (this is the church we attend – it is a campus of North Point Ministries) asking if I might be interested in interviewing for the Director of Assimilation position. This position helped facilitate the formation of small groups at the church and coordinated the GroupLink events the church hosted 4x a year. Would I be interested? Heck yeah I’d be interested? Work with GroupLink? Be promoted to Director? (Background: Mark and I have served and volunteered at each GroupLink since 2001. We have totally drunk the small group Kool-Aid and have the mustache to show for it so-to-speak. I had always told Mark I love what I do, but man, I’d love to work in Groups). This must be what God was telling me – he didn’t want me to quit. He had my dream job waiting for me and just wanted me to leave my current position. (But in my gut I knew it wasn’t right). I decided I’d interview. And to make a long-story short – I got the job. And it was wonderful, but it was a struggle, and about a year later I realized why. I had disobeyed. I was supposed to be at home doing the dream job God had for me, not the dream job I had for me. More tears and a different boss – I tweaked my resignation letter and turned it in. It was almost as if God was saying “Will you trust me? Even if something better, according to you, comes along, will you trust me in what I’m asking you to do?” I failed that test, but I learned a lot!
The second time was with social media. I already posted about why I got off social media. The part I didn’t tell you was that I felt God was telling me to get off at the beginning of 2016. Well I had been slow and hadn’t really gotten off, but decided I would Valentine’s Day (why I feel there has to be a significant day I don’t know). But…then I got diagnosed. And again I thought there’s no way now, God, you’d want me to get off social media. People are going to want to know what’s happening. How can I say ‘I have breast cancer’ and ‘I’m getting off social media’ in the same post? (Ultimately…I wanted to be known.) I had seen a friend walk through this and she had a FB page with 700+ people that followed her and prayed for her. I needed the same thing. Right? Wrong. The only person that I needed to know or be known by was Jesus. I could send out updates without social media and still have people praying for me. At one of my low points during the last 9 months I was up alone just crying. I was frustrated. I was in pain. I was discouraged. And I decided to look at social media (read: escape to social media) hoping for something funny to laugh at or something to smile about. And instead, the first three posts I saw hurt. They wounded me and I found myself discouraged in a whole new way. Why wasn’t I invited? Why wasn’t I included? How did I not know about that gathering? God knew. If I had been off social media I would have never seen those things. And I wouldn’t have escaped to FaceBook & Instagram, but to Him. I would’ve allowed him the opportunity to give me something to smile about. And so, the next day was my birthday and I signed off – went dark – on social media. Again, I failed that test, but I learned a lot.
So…Jonah. Remember Jonah and the whale story in Sunday school growing up? Or maybe it’s one of those stories you have always heard about and never really thought could be true (a man living in the belly of a fish…really?!?). I’m one of those people that just believes that everything in the Bible is true. Jesus even references Jonah and the great fish as told by Matthew in the 12th chapter of his gospel.
So here’s a quick synopsis: Jonah lives in a town called Gath-hepher. God calls him to go to Ninevah to basically be a missionary. He decides, “Nope, not gonna do it. I’m gonna go down to Joppa where I can catch a boat to Tarshish instead.” Look at the map below.
Ha! Jonah was going 2,000 (yes thousand) miles in the opposite direction. He wasn’t just saying “No!”, he was saying, “Hell, No!”. (Is it bad I just said hell in telling the story of Jonah? Oh well…). So God sends a big storm and the boat starts to capsize and the sailors ask Jonah if he brought them bad luck. He says yes and asks them to throw him over board. As soon as they do the storm calms and “the LORD had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.” (Jonah 1:17) Jonah prays to God and “the LORD ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.” (Jonah 2:10) Jonah then goes to Nineveh and guides the people to turn from their wicked ways and trust God.
So in my study of this story I came to a certain conclusion. I’ve never (call me stupid) looked at this story as the whale being sent to SAVE Jonah. Just to SWALLOW him. “The fish swallowed up Jonah, not to devour him, but to protect him.” Isn’t that amazing? When we disobey, God isn’t out to swallow us, he’s out to save us! That’s a HUGE difference! “God could have rescued Jonah in any number of ways. He chose this specific way because of the effect it would have on Jonah’s heart.” Three days by myself in the belly of a stinky fish – I think my heart would’ve been humbled too. Ultimately, “Jonah shows us that God has a way of bringing us to the place where we want what He wants.” God didn’t swallow me when I disobeyed and took another job. God still used me in that roll to connect 100s of people into life-changing small groups. But he still brought me to the place of wanting what He wanted more than what I wanted. God didn’t swallow me when I disobeyed and didn’t get off social media. He saved me from it that night I finally surrendered and gave it up bringing me to the place of wanting what He wanted more than what I wanted.
So I ask, Is there an area in your life where God asked you to go to Ninevah, but you are experiencing the storms of going to Tarshish? Would you choose to allow him to save you, even if it means feeling like you are being swallowed? The result in the turning from your Tarshish is true peace, because you will be smack dab in the middle of what He wants for you; His will.
Quotations taken from commentaries on BlueLetterBible.com.