Friday, November 23, 2001
It was Bible story time for our three-year-old grandson. When Daddy asked about David, our little Bible scholar said, "David obey God." But when Daddy asked about Jonah, our grandson said, "Jonah not obey. Go in whale." Then, for the grand prize, "What happens if you don't obey?" The little guy paused for a moment and then he answered, "Go in whale."
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "Whale Bait."
Actually, that's pretty much how it works for all of us. If God is after us to do something and we don't obey - "go in whale."
Let's go back to the story that started all of this. Our word for today from the Word of God begins in Jonah 1:1. "The word of the Lord came to Jonah ... 'Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before Me.' But Jonah ran away from the Lord ... He found a ship bound for Tarshish ... He went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord. Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up."
OK, the sailors are scared to death, and they try everything to save themselves, including praying to their gods. But Jonah knows this is his fault and he asks them to throw him overboard to save everyone else. Well, "then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm ... But the Lord provided a great fish (OK, it wasn't exactly a whale, after all) to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights."
God, I believe, has sent me with this message for this particular day because He knows there's a modern-day Jonah listening - it could be you. The word of the Lord has come to you - you know there's something He's telling you to do. It may be to go somewhere for Him, to do something for Him, to stop doing what's displeasing to Him. God may be trying to get you to go to someone and make things right, to tell someone about Jesus, to move out of your comfort zone. Whatever it is, maybe you're trying a Jonah - you're running from God's orders.
You can run by rationalizing, by blaming other people, by putting it off, by hiding behind excuses. But after all is said and done, you're just plain old disobeying your Lord. Here comes the storm -- here comes that big-mouthed sea creature. Have you noticed the unusual turbulence in your life recently? The chronic frustration? The obstacles that keep getting in your way? The discouragement that's replaced your joy? That might be God's whale, coming to stop and turn His child on the run.
The pressure from heaven escalates the longer we refuse to do what God wants. He uses His "whales" to move us from what we want to what He wants - after all, God's plans are the destiny you were made for in the first place!
Now, God, thankfully gave Jonah a second chance to do it right - and He's giving you that chance right now. A three-year-old can understand the bottom line - "Not obey - go in whale." The hymn writer had it right - "Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey."