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Jonah was a man “called” by God. God literally called (spoke to) Jonah to go to speak to the evil Ninevites (who were known to persecute and torture the Jews). It was for a greater purpose than Jonah could ever have imagined. But since he couldn’t imagine why, as we all know, he ran!
You and I are called people too. If you are not in Christ (haven’t placed your faith in Him and what He did for you on the cross), then He is calling you now to Himself. Jesus said in Luke 5:32, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” He pursues you tirelessly, desiring that you (and all people) would come to saving knowledge of Him, as well as an intimate daily relationship with HIm. If you are IN Christ (having put your faith in Christ for your eternal salvation-John 3:16), you are still called. And even more so! Now that you’ve responded to the first call, you are called to do His good work! Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship [another translation says 'masterpiece'], created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Yes indeed. When we put our faith in Christ, we are made new. Re-born. Re-created. From the inside. And for what? For good works (unique to each person) He’s already planned out for us to do! THAT is our calling!
For Jonah, knowing what his calling was, wasn’t very hard. “Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah…” (1:1). Somehow God spoke it directly to the prophet Jonah. He didn’t have any doubt what his purpose, in that exact time, was. It can be a totally different story for us, can’t it? We can be made new in Christ immediately upon putting our faith in Him, and then waffle for some time with what our purpose is now! OR we can be like Jonah, know our new purpose(s), and be so upset over it that we run from it!
Either way, whether you are fulfilling your “calling” or purpose as we speak, running from it, or having no idea what it may be…. God is still going to complete it!! “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 1:6). No matter what, we have been promised that His calling WILL be completed in us. That is a promise you can count on. Ephesians 2:10 (two paragraphs up) said that we were created anew in Christ Jesus (when we placed our faith in Him) for “good works” He’d already planned for us. And in Phil 1:6 we see that He who began those good works in us (same exact Greek phrase used in both verses) WILL bring them to completion! He who is faithful and true, WILL do it!! Even if you are running from it now!
Jonah ran from his calling, and God chartered a bus others may know as a whale, that chased him down, picked him up, and returned him right back to where God had planned for him to be!
“And the LORD spoke to the fish…”
(Notice, all God needs to do is speak, and all of creation obeys?)
and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.” (Jonah 2:10)
Yup! Right back where he began!
If we’re running to escape, off course in anyway, or just running around like a chicken without a head, and we’re a follower of Jesus, we can expect that the life circumstances we are in right now are our bus ride, not only to safety, but to the GOOD purpose/calling He preplanned for us long ago!!
Here’s how that looked in my life: I wanted a graphic design job. Not even ONE opened up to even apply for. I was devastated as I waited. I became paralyzed by fear as I waited. I turned to God in anguish. He whispered to my heart, “Hope.” I learned how to hope. I hoped beyond all hope. For God to know more than me. For God to have a better plan than I had. He gently prompted me to consider other avenues of art. I began to define my “style” of illustration. He immediately confirmed this new direction. The dry work spell immediately became an overflowing work spell. I fumbled awkwardly through it, learning as I went. I grew in it. I started oohmoon. I grew some more. It ended. But I knew God was saying, “Keep going. This is part of my bigger plan.” So I did. So I am. And now I’m doing posts like this one… and He’s still daily confirming, “This is part of my bigger plan.” I have to say that I don’t know the end of this plan. I haven’t the foggiest, but I know I’m walking in my calling right now. I wasn’t at first. I was wondering. Like that headless chicken. And then God, without my having a clue at the time, used the bus of despair and fear to bring me to solid ground, and gave me the strength and the wherewithal to take my first tiny step. Which He quickly confirmed. I’m still not to my destination… but I KNOW this road is leading to my preplanned destiny. Fulfilling little purposes on the way. Building up muscle for it on the way. Learning what to do once I get there. There’s a plan. I have hope in it. Moreover, I have hope in God who made the plan. And I have full faith that He will see it to completion.
What bus are you on today? Is it a yucky bus, like Jonah’s was? The “yuck” can deliver us to our calling. It may become a part of our life-story that will be the drive and passion behind our calling. Or it may deliver you from going the wrong, wandering, way from your ultimate calling. If its a “yuck” bus, like I have DEFINITELY been on!!!!!, it still may turn out to be a good-in-the-end bus because it ended up bringing you to the right place.
Did you notice Jonah was *vomited* onto dry land? It wasn’t pretty. I promise you that! Imagine what he smelled like!? Now ponder this… Not only was he almost responsible for many many many others’ deaths (the sailors and the whole enormous city of Nineveh), he almost drowned, swam around in stomach fluid for three days, and then was vomited back up. Whew! Even his step out of the “bus” wasn’t easy. It only happened because it was an act of God. He spoke. The fish puked. It may take an act of God to place your sweet feet back onto dry land, and back on the road toTHE purpose of your life, but please know this: God is faithful! If you are His, He will do it. And He CAN do it! Sometimes knowing He can do it takes more faith than knowing someday He will! Our lives may seem so impossibly confusing or off course, that the HOW of getting back on course seems to utterly not exist. But remember, God does it. Not us.
Don’t forget that Jonah prayed first though. Last week we spent considerable time looking at Jonah’s prayer from the belly of the great fish. Here are three sure things that will help you walk full in your calling:
1. Pray. Ask God to help you discover the “good works” He’s already prepared for you! He promises He has prepared them (See Eph. 2:10)! Tell Him you WANT to fulfill them. That with all your heart, you want to bring Him the glory due His name! Which is what His calling on all of our lives is ultimately about!
2. Be in God’s Word. If you are actively and genuinely pursuing a relationship with God, especially through reading His Word (the Bible), you WILL find your feet walking a path to your full-blown calling. I promise. Pursuing God is ALWAYS part of His plan for your life! He LOVES and desires 2-way relationship with us! “With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments (aka: Your Word)!…How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” (Psalm 119:10,103, parenthesis mine)
3. Obey. When you talk to God, let Him talk back. Listen to what He says to you. The most concrete and objective way He speaks to us is through His Word. You can always know His will for how to live when you read His Word. It can also guide you and speak to you for your current situations. Be consistently (every day if possible) reading the Bible! If you aren’t now, make a plan for how you’ll do it! Live obediently now, as best as you know how, and He’ll direct you to full-calling obedience later. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3).
God is all about deliverance! As we’ve discussed in previous weeks, Jonah in the belly of the whale for three days reminds us of Jesus, dead in a tomb for three days. Jonah was vomited back onto dry land. Jesus was miraculously risen from death. For you and me. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32) That doesn’t necessarily mean earthy possessions. It has eternal implications. But for our purposes today, He will give us all things that we need now in order to fulfill the purpose He wants us to live in now. If God has given His very Son for us, won’t He also help us fulfill our God-given destinies, now? Fulfill the desinies He has had planned for our lives from before we were born?!
If you haven’t yet found yourself on dry land, pray! If you are on dry land, but you are either scared to take the first step or don’t know how to, read your Bible. Eventually, if you are growing in the Lord, you will fulfill your calling. And if you are walking the path to it, not fully there yet, press on! Keep praying. Keep reading God’s Word. Keep seeking solid Biblical teaching. And keep serving the Lord and doing what you were created to do, as best you know how! And be patient. God is using now to prepare you for later. God knows the right timing for your full-blown fulfilled destiny-living. You can trust Him. With all your heart. Since we have not made it to Nineveh yet in our weekly studies, we’ll cover full-blown calling once Jonah gets there! We’ll rest here for now. Patiently.
It is an honor and privilege to serve you today. And to serve the Lord Jesus Christ!
All my deepest affection to you today!