“…But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” Jonah 1:3
The knowledge of God is a great catalyst, and response, to “drifting” or “neglecting the calling of God.” In the case of Jonah, we see a deliberate defiance to his ministry and mission because of blatant prejudice in his heart. But Jonah is a little man in a little place, compared to the Creator and Savior. Just as Jesus’ came to “seek and save that which was lost,” so in Jonah’s day, God was doing the same. He knew that Ninevah was ripe for judgement, but also, still had something of a conscience with regard to her wickedness. He knew that, if the word of repentance and faith was preached at the right time, there would be a repentant city, and judgement would be averted. However, again, there stood a little man, in a little place, defying the mercy and compassion of a great and wonderful God. Instead of salvation, he wanted judgment. And like the disciples of old, he wanted, in essence to call down fire upon their heads…he wanted their destruction. So, we have a man, a prophet, who will choose to believe a lie, and seek to run away from “the presence of the Lord.” His deception will lead him to the depths of despair. But out of that despair will rise the cry of his heart again unto this merciful and gracious God. The remembrance of Him will be the beginning point of his deliverance, and the return in his heart of his commitment to the Master of his mission
God’s purposes will be accomplished. The question is, “Can they be accomplished in and through us?” When God called Abraham to leave Ur of the Chaldees, Abram (as he was called at that time) only went as far as Haran. God was patient with him, working in his heart to strengthen his faith. He then would leave Haran, and proceed to Canaan…or rather, the land where God’s promises of fruitfulness and blessing would be realized. Abraham’s mission was delayed because he stopped in Haran. Jonah’s mission was delayed by his flight from God. God would stop him, and turn him around by a storm and a fish, and the remembrance of Him. Why such a difference in the manner of dealing with these two individuals? Most certainly it had to do with the matter of urgency. The judgement upon Nineveh was pending…the preaching of God’s word to the people of necessity had to be done promptly. Time was of the essence.
What about God’s mission for us? Are we “drifting,” or as the Lord Jesus addressed the church of Laodicea, “…lukewarm?” Are we “neglecting so great a salvation,” as was the case of certain Hebrew Christians? Or, are we committed to “study to show ourselves approved unto God,” “…in the business of our Father,” being instant, “in season and out of season,” ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us. We might be like Jonah, for one reason or another, running away from the calling of God. We might be like Abraham, for one reason or another, hesitating to proceed all the way to Canaan. The issue is the same; the mission is not fully engaged. There is a neglect of the purpose, the direction, the reason for which God has worked in our hearts that we should belong to Christ.
Dear Father, let us not be entangled in the issues of this life, and burdened down by its cares, that we slip, neglect, or run from our calling. You came, Lord Jesus, to seek and to save that which was lost. And most certainly, you have equipped us all, and every one, in such a way to serve Thee, according to the calling of each one of us. Give us grace to cast off any “unfruitful works of darkness, ” to trust Thee to take us by the hand, and to lead us into fruitful service for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.