"Say OK and obey" are words frequently used in our house. (And apparently, we need to say them more to Jemma, as yesterday she escaped church nursery, twice. Climbed the back stairs, twice. And ended up in the sanctuary, twice.)
But anyway, this post really isn't about the girls...but it is about obedience.
This past week, a portion of the book of Jonah was listed in our church's bulletin as preparation for Sunday's sermon. Here's a rundown of the story: God told Jonah to take His Message to Nineveh. Jonah hated Nineveh. So Jonah ran away from his call. He boarded a ship going in the opposite direction.
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But God wasn't ready to give up on Jonah. A terrible storm blew up. Jonah admitted fault and told the other sailors to throw him overboard. God sent a fish to swallow Jonah. (And P.S., the other sailors were awestruck by God and vowed to serve Him, and Him alone.)
Jonah spent 3 days and 3 nights in the great fish...and he poured his heart out to God. Then the fish spit him out on the shore. Again, God told Jonah to go to Nineveh. This time, Jonah obeyed. The people of Nineveh believed God's message. God saw their repentance and did not destroy the city.
But this is where the story gets interesting...
You'd think Jonah would be thrilled! An entire city heard God's message and was saved. But Jonah was angry at God's grace and compassion. He went up on a hill to pout and to wait to see the destruction of Nineveh. But the city wasn't destroyed. Jonah was so angry, "he wanted to die."
Often with this story, we focus on God's grace and compassion...the first will be last, the last will be first...but what struck me upon hearing the story this time around was about obedience and attitude.
Jonah obeyed, just not with a "happy heart." But still, consider the magnitude of Jonah's obedience. An entire city was saved through Jonah's message...even though his heart wasn't in it. God used Jonah's obedience, even with his bad attitude!
It first, made me ponder those things that I obey, but don't really want to do...and yes, there definitely ARE things on that list! But it also made me realize that God uses even our unhappy obedience. Imagine what would happen if we "obey all the way, right away, with a happy heart." (Ginger Plowman, Don't Make Me Count to Three)
God, help me to first be obedient to your word. And then, may my heart change to come along for the ride!
To read Jonah's story from the NLT, click HERE.