What is the one thing in your life at the moment that you know God wants you to do but you are not doing it? Where you are holding back? Resisting? Or even being plain disobedient?
In the book of Jonah we do not need to go past the opening three verses to find how the 8th century prophet Jonah would answer the question: “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, ‘Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.’ But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid his fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord” (Jon 1:1-3).
While we are not told how the word of the Lord came to Jonah, what we are told is that Jonah heard it, understood it and was very clear about what he was being asked to do. He just did not want to do it. The Lord had given Jonah a message – one of judgment. He had given him a task – to preach that message of judgment. And he had given Jonah a place to preach it – the great city of Nineveh, capital of the Assyrian Empire, a city opposed to God. Ironically, Jonah’s action of trying to flee from this God-given task and go in the opposite direction identifies Jonah as also being opposed to God. He heard. But didn’t do
Jesus warns of the foolishness of hearing and not doing, comparing it to building your life upon the sand (Matt 7:26). James 1:22-24 also warns of the foolishness of hearing and not doing, saying: “But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.”
I wonder. What is the one thing in your life at the moment that you know that God wants you to do but you are not doing it? Is it sharing your faith with your neighbour, or that mum or dad at your kid’s school? Is it getting involved in a ministry at church, such as teaching children, or welcoming people, or hospitality to people from other cultures? Is it taking a greater initiative in leading your family in the love and knowledge of the Lord Jesus? Is it remaining faithful and committed to your spouse? Is it repenting of a particular sin? Is it getting better equipped for ministry by studying at Bible college? Is it giving up your attachment to things and being financially generous towards the things of God?
Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, once famously said: “There are no happy disobedient Christians. But there are no unhappy obedient Christians.” The pathway to true happiness is not merely knowing what God wants you to do. But acting on it. And doing what he says. Whatever the thing is that you are holding back on God, can I urge you to stop. To give it up. To be obedient. And to trust God for the journey that obedience will take you. Don’t flee to Tarshish. Flee to God.