Jonah and joy are not two words that typically go together when we recall the story of Jonah being swallowed by a whale. Yet God keeps pressing on my heart that joy is the foundation of this four-chapter book found in the Old Testament of the Bible.
I went back and dug deeper and asked God, "Show me the joy?"
In case you are not familiar with Jonah, his job was to proclaim God's truth at God's direction. Jonah didn't like the message God asked him to deliver. Jonah decided to hop a ship and sail to a city more than 2000 miles in the opposite direction of where God told him to go.
I love Jonah's honesty. He actually tells the sailors he's running away from God. Jonah then promptly falls asleep like a baby in the hull of the ship. While Jonah is snoozing, an amazing storm threatens to sink the ship and crew. The sailors wake Jonah and demand an accounting of just how bad Jonah ticked-off God. Jonah realizes God brought the storm and that it would only subside if he was tossed into the raging sea.
The sailors didn't want to kill Jonah. They fought hard to get to shore. Only after pleading with God not to punish them did they agree to toss Jonah overboard.
As Jonah sinks deeper and deeper into the depths of the sea, the sailors also begin to sink -- to their knees. The sea becomes calm when Jonah and the sailors are obedient to God's direction. The sailors, who did not worship God when the ship launched, greatly feared the Lord, offered sacrifices to the Lord, and made vows to the Lord when the sea calmed. As God reveals himself to the sailors, the joy God promises starts to be revealed to me as well.
There was joy in the moment of rescue from physical death. But the true joy was the moment the sailors accepted Jonah's God - - the God that created the land and the sea.
There was joy in obedience to God.
Jonah and the sailors intentionally disobeyed God because they thought they had a better plan. The sailors thought fighting against the howling winds and waves would save them. Jonah thought running away was the answer.
How often do I run from God or fight a battle God has not called me to fight? When I try to do either, I am miserable and exhausted in my disobedience. Only when I give God control and obey Him does joy begin to bubble up from deep within me. Only when I begin to sink down to my knees in praise and submission does the joy spill out.
I no longer have to fear or fight disaster by running or rowing the opposite direction. "The king of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more." Zephaniah 3:15.
As we continue this December preparing our hearts for the celebration of Jesus' birth, consider that abundant joy in Christ can be yours if He is your personal Lord and Savior. You can learn more about Jesus as your Savior at IamSecond.
Dig Deeper |
Additional Liturgical Readings For TheThird Week of Advent |
Action Item |
Draw a boat in your journal, on your calendar, or on the napkin that came with your morning coffee. It can be simplistic or ornate. Ask God to forgive you of any disobedience and to help you set sail on His path to joy.
Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for my disobedience. It seems that almost everyday I set about my work on my path without regard for Your will for my life. Lord, I have tasted the sweetness of the joy of obedience. Please bring me back to You each day. Amen.
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