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Lessons From Jonah (Pt. 1): God's Calling Cannot Be Missed

The book of Jonah records the story of God sending the prophet Jonah to the city of Nineveh to call its people to repentance. Upon receiving this calling, Jonah decides, “No thank you” and seeks to escape “the presence of the Lord” (1:3) Yet God does not give up or find someone else — He had chosen Jonah and He would see to it that Jonah would fulfill his purpose. So, God ensured, through Jonah’s willful rebellion, to bring this calling to fruition.

How many of us fear, “missing God’s will”? How many people stress and worry that they will miss out on God’s plan? It seems like this idea has deeply rooted itself in our hearts as if we are able to disrupt or completely miss God’s purposes for us. Jonah knew God’s will — clearly — and yet he sought to avoid it. But despite his best efforts, Jonah couldn’t outrun, or “miss,” God’s will. In our culture we experience the opposite, people desperately wanting to be in God’s will but fearing they will miss it because they do not know it.

Of course, we aren’t a prophet and will most likely not receive a divine calling or assignment like Jonah. If God desires to do such a thing, He can, but you’ll notice people in the Bible weren't concerned or looking for this “calling.” Those in the Bible sought to know and walk in God’s ways. Don’t miss that — the place people longed for was not knowing God’s will in the form of a plan but learning of His will in the form of His ways! To walk and live as God intended us to was the safest, most satisfying, and most promising way of life. People desired to know God’s ways and sought to live in them. That’s why the Psalmists said,

"Blessed are those whose way is blameless,

who walk in the law of the LORD!

Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,

who seek him with their whole heart,

who also do no wrong,

but walk in his ways!

You have commanded your precepts

to be kept diligently.

Oh that my ways may be steadfast

in keeping your statutes!

Then I shall not be put to shame,

having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.

I will praise you with an upright heart,

when I learn your righteous rules.

I will keep your statutes;

do not utterly forsake me!" (Psalm 119:1-8)

Now it is important to note that sin and willful rebellion will not be honored by God and we should not bank on His mercy as a means to do whatever we want (Romans 2:4). I believe if we walk in His ways, we will be in the center of His will (Proverbs 3:6). Jonah suffered because of his rebellion, and all who have or will rebel will experience this as well. King Saul lost the kingdom because of his sin (1 Samuel 15:28), and because of his continual rebellion — he lost everything, even life.

But I hope that this is not the normal case for those concerned about missing God’s will. Those truly concerned about this very thing aren’t the ones running around in sin. They’re the ones tearfully seeking to know His will. The good news is we have full access to this will, the Bible! Nonetheless, take courage, if a man, who seeks to outrun God’s will, still ends up completing it — how could we, who so earnestly want to please Him, ever fear missing it? Besides, if God is the one who created us in Christ Jesus for good works, that he prepared before the creation of the world (Ephesians 2:10), don't you think He'll see to it we accomplish those things? Instead of fearing this, let us confidently say along with the Psalmist:

"The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;

your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.

Do not forsake the work of your hands." (Psalm 138:8)

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for you. Don't live in fear. Don't let stress run you down. Read Psalm 25, take it to heart, and have confidence in His promise to lead you in His ways.