“But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.” (Jonah 1:3 NAS)
Jonah was called to go to Nineveh, and he didn’t want to go. There are different speculations as to why, but most theologians believe that the reason was because the people from Nineveh were kind of archenemies to the Jews. In this familiar story, he is thrown overboard off a ship during a terrible storm. The reason Jonah got in deep water was that he was afraid of following God’s call on his life. Fearful of what the Lord had in store, he fled in an attempt to escape His plan.
I remember, years ago, I knew God had called me to be an evangelist to reach people who didn’t know Christ. Like Jonah, there was a season when I ran from my call! I also went overboard when I ended up taking a job at a Fortune 500 delivery company instead. I still recall the day when I ran into a man who was a friend of my father’s. I was delivering packages to his house, and he said, “Jay, what are you doing?” I thought it was just a casual comment. So I replied, “I’m working; the family is well…” and he said, “No, what are you really doing?”
I didn’t know what to say because I didn’t know what he meant. He said, “Jay, you know you are not called to do this. You know God has called you to do something else. So why are you not doing it?”
I really didn’t know how to answer. The rest of the day and even weeks after that, I thought about what he had said and took inventory of why I wasn’t doing what I was called to do. The truth of it is, I was extremely miserable. Like most people, I found out that running from my mission didn’t give me any sense of satisfaction.
How about you?
Are you running from something God has asked you to do, from some call He has placed on your life because of fear? Perhaps you are worried that you won’t be good at what He’s asking you to do, that your efforts will fail or that you will embarrass yourself somehow.
Are you running from your mission and purpose – the very thing God created you to do? The truth of it is, no one can do it but you. So, why are you running? If God has truly called you to do something, then until you say “yes” and obey, you’re going to be on a path of misery. Jonah ran, and there were heavy consequences, and his life didn’t have fulfillment until he submitted to God’s plan. I encourage you today to say, “God, I want to let go of fear for what you have for me. Please, show me Your will, and I will do it.”
If you surrender your life and your plans to the Lord, you will not regret finding out what He has in store. It will likely test your limits, make you uncomfortable and call out the courage in you, but the end result is far better than anything we could ever plan for ourselves.
This article is reprinted with permission from Navigate: Finding Your Way in this World by Jay Lowder. Copyright © 2019 Jay Lowder.