Okay, one more day on Jonah 1:2-3, and then I promise we’ll move on! Just in case you forgot the gist of those verses—God told Jonah to get up and go, and Jonah got up and went…in the opposite direction.
So Jonah really blew it by intentionally going the opposite direction God was telling him to go. He clearly sinned in his disobedience. He knew exactly what was expected of him but did just the opposite. That’s usually the focus of the book of Jonah…hearing from God and walking in obedience (or disobedience). But today I’m going down a little different path. I’m thinking about those important decisions we need to make that do not have a clear-cut, right-or-wrong answer (morally, ethically, legally). Perhaps you’ve been presented with an opportunity and you just want to know what God’s will is. For example, maybe you’re wondering about moving, or taking another job, or saying yes to a volunteer activity, or going on a mission trip. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I wrestle the most with issues and decisions that are really not so significant in the whole scheme of life.
I was thinking about this the other day as I was vacuuming. I had to respond either yes or no to a request from someone to do something in church. I went back and forth about what to do. And trust me, this was not an earth-shattering decision to make! But in my mind I knew that a “no” answer meant that this person had to go back to square one and find someone else. I’ve often been on that side of the equation so I can empathize with that. But on the other hand, I didn’t really believe that this was something God was asking me to do, and definitely not the best use of my time or talents. So back and forth I went. I have a deep desire to honor God in my decision making and to do what He wants me to do, but the answer is seldom written on the wall.
In my stack of index cards at home, I found one with some notes scribbled on it, no doubt from some long-ago sermon, entitled, “Tests or guidelines used to determine God’s will.” It lists three simple steps:
1) Examine circumstantial evidence;
2) Examine God’s Word and pray;
3) Consult with others.
Sound, solid biblical advice.
Yet, I can’t help but wonder if there’s more to the whole decision-making thing. I wonder if perhaps it’s in the everyday choices and decisions of life that God is drawing us to a deeper level of trust. If I make the wrong choice do I really trust Him to get me back on the right track? Do I really believe He can and will make all things work out for good, as Romans 8:28 promises? If I hear Him wrong will He look down on me with disdain and say, “You made your bed. Now lie in it” or can I trust Him to lead me (sometimes firmly, but always lovingly) back to the right path?
When we look at the story of Jonah, we see a God who cares deeply about His children making the right choices. And when they choose the wrong path, even deliberately as Jonah did, we see a loving God who brings them back on track.
God is teaching me that if I mess up and go the wrong direction, He still loves me. In fact, nothing I do could make Him love me less…and nothing I do could make Him love me more! When I go astray, He can and will lead me back in the right direction, showing me the path I should choose.
Psalm 25 speaks so beautifully to this truth.
“O Lord, I give my life to you. I trust in you, my God!
Show me the right path, O Lord; and point out the road for me to follow.
The Lord is good and does what is right; He shows the proper path to those who go astray.
He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them His way.
The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness…
He will show them the path they should choose.” (Ps. 25:1,2a,4,8,9,10a,12b)