I've been reading and re-reading the book of Jonah found in the Old Testament of the Bible. Before you applaud my amazing commitment to Bible study, you should know it's only 4 chapters long. You could read it in it's entirety in like 5 minutes. Nevertheless, I've been reading it, studying some of the context of Jonah's life, trying to understand something deeper than what might be evident at first glance.
In my 2nd or 3rd reading I noticed something that I hadn't noticed before. Jonah 1:9 says, "Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.”
This doesn't feel significant until you understand when and where Jonah made this statement. God had instructed Jonah, as one of His prophets, to go directly to the Assyrian capital city of Ninevah to deliver a message of coming destruction if the people didn't repent and turn back to God. Jonah does what comes naturally to many throughout history, he runs. He runs as far in the opposite direction as possible. He heads to the port of Joppa, boards a ship and makes off for the city of Tarshish.
Tarshish was significantly further away and in the opposite direction from Ninevah. Jonah's move to board a ship and head for Tarshish could not be any clearer, "He wanted nothing to do with what God was calling him to."
So with that information in mind, let's read Jonah 1:9 again, "“I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.”
As I read that verse again the other night, I was struck by the ridiculousness of what was stated. Jonah was "saying" that he worshipped the Lord, the God of Heaven yet he was on a ship headed away from where God was clearly calling him. How could this be? Could Jonah really identify himself as someone who worshipped God and yet still completely ignore His leading?
As I reflected on my own life I began to wonder how often I "say" one thing about God and then demonstrate something completely different with my actions?
Do I sometimes try to convince myself that I worship the Lord when in fact I have boarded a ship and I'm headed in the opposite direction? If I don't actually follow God's leading am I really following? My prayer for you and me is that we would be people of faith, willing to go where He leads. When He calls I pray that we would resist the temptation to head to port in search of a vessel to take us away. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.