If I’m being completely candid, there are days when I don’t want to go to Australia. There are days when I allow my doubt to overtake my faith. Many times when I think about how much easier and how much safer it would be to stay on this continent and graduate with a job in marketing or public relations. Something wise and in my control. My mind would spin less if I could give it the peace of knowing that I’ll have security for the next year.
It’s not that I don’t believe God’s calling me, because I do. I felt strong conviction of the obedience being asked of me when I committed to this trip last November. It’s just simply that I don’t wanna go. Thankfully, I’m not the only one who feels this way. God gently reminded me of a friend from the Old Testament, you can probably guess who? You got it, Jonah.
A Modern Day Nineveh
While in Australia, I’ll be working with a University in the coastal city of Brisbane. Brizzie is known for it’s nightlife and distaste for faith. It is comparable to the kind of behavior that God was referencing in the first chapter of Jonah. Just as God was commanding Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach against godlessness, he also commands us to go to these modern day comparables.
But Jonah doesn’t want to go, and so he runs. And I can understand why he does. Going is the hard route. But Jonah’s disobedience is teaching me a lesson. By running, Jonah wreaks havoc on an entire ship of people. They try to right his wrongs for him, but God’s purposes prevail and they are forced to throw Jonah overboard. Our disobedience does not only have a cost for ourselves, but for others as well. God’s judgment comes and in his mercy he saves Jonah from certain death in the storms of the ocean by providing him the belly of a fish. While inside of the fish, Jonah prays the prayer of my heart today.
“Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. 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.’”
As you know, eventually the Lord had the fish spit Jonah out to safety. And now that Jonah has had his traumatic experience, he decides to go. Personally, I think I’ve decided I’ll just skip the “get swallowed by a giant fish” part and choose obedience. As hard as it may be at times, and as much doubt may creep in, I will learn from the mistakes of others before me and choose to trust that God’s plan is better than my own.
Sometimes Obedience Leads to Results
So Jonah went, and his obedience produced fruit. When Jonah preaches, the Ninevites repent! An entire city of people turn from their ways and beg God to relent and have compassion. I could only dream of such a response in my ministry! Even one repentant believer would be worth the trip. This is not always the case, and sometimes we must go with the mentality of “planting seeds” for future fruit. But some days, God moves and moves big. My prayer is for “immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine.”
I have my days. Days when I want to throw a fit, call it quits and run away to my own plans that make me feel in control like Jonah did. I want to care for myself more than the continent of people that don’t know the Lord. I doubt my being there will make a difference.
But then I realize that it was never Jonah that saved those people. And it will never be me that saves the Australians. But God. God can change hundreds of hearts in a day. It could be through his sending that one person, or even 10 people, come to know Christ. And so we listen, we be obedient, and we go.