Storms of Life

Jonah 1: 1-5:
The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: "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 and headed to Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying his fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord. Then the Lord sent a a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.

Where do the storms of life come from? How do we end up in such chaotic situations when we take every precaution to make sure we are not heading into a trap? Our lives end up a mess because we are not obeying the calling of the Lord and we are doing things our own way and not His way. We all think we know so much and have it all figured out. We go down our own paths, it's about what we know, what we have done, this mentality leads to destruction. A lot of preachers will talk about God's compassion, His kindness, His patience. Let me talk about God's love and His wrath with you. What greater love is there than love that comes from punishment? For example, when our parents corrected us, didn't they do it out of love and concern for us? They wanted us to learn right from wrong so that we would make good decisions and live productive lives. Isn't that what God does too? He loves us so much that He corrects us when we are wrong, He teaches us the right way, His way. For some of us, it's a hard lesson learned. I know because it has taken me several years to learn that God will have His way. That's why He sends these storms in our lives. It's not because He has left us or because He doesn't love us, but it is the contrary. He loves us so much that He will pour out His wrath on us so that we will get on the right track and obey His commands and seek His guidance.

Let's look at what happened to Jonah. God told Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and preach against it. This was a great city with a big population of people. It was a city of its time. One might compare it to modern day New York. God wanted Jonah to go there and tell the people of that great city that they were doing wrong. That intimidated and scared Jonah. Instead of obeying God and going to Nineveh, he ran in the opposite direction to Tarshish. Nineveh was to the east of Israel (modern day Iraq) and Tarshish was about as far away as you could go west, on the coast of what is now Spain. It's like being called to go to New York, but fleeing to L.A. Jonah thought for himself, considering not the word of God and His promises, he fled as far in the opposite direction as he could go. Isn't that what we do today? We know that we have been called to do something. We know that we have a purpose, God's purpose for us, in life, but we ignore it. We try to do our thing, we go in our direction, and we flee from the calling of God. Then we wonder why when our lives are constantly in a whirlwind.

Again, let's look at what happened to Jonah when he ran from God. Jonah boarded a ship to head out to Nineveh. He was on a cruise headed the wrong way. So the Lord sent a storm upon the sea and "rocked the boat". How many times has God rocked your boat because of your disobedience? God sent such a fierce storm in this man's life that even the people that were around him and journeyed with him were affected by the storm. The sailors started throwing cargo off the ship trying to lighten the load hoping the ship would not capsize and sink. Isn't this what we do? We start going through storms in life, the people around us feel the affects from it and are stricken by it. Instead of giving in to the calling of God, we try to lighten the load. We start shedding anything that we think is bringing us down. We get rid of all we possibly can just to find out that we are still on the verge of sinking in our own stubbornness. Some of us have divorced our spouses, left our children, quit good jobs just trying to do anything that we think will lighten the load and end the storm. As long as we keep doing things our way and rejecting God, the storm is not going to subside, it will only grow worse. How long and how far will you allow your storms in life to continue before you decide to give in to the calling of the Lord? How much will it take? How much longer will you continue to run and hide, knowing that you are only bringing more grief on yourself and on your family? When will enough be enough and you finally listen? I know what I'm talking about because I too have had an apple out of this bag. I ran and ran and ran some more. My life was a mess. The more i ran, the worse it got, the worse my stormy conditions grew, the worse it affected my children and my job and everything in my life. No matter what I did, I could not pull out of it. Sure, I may have seen sunshine now and then, the dark cloud never left until I fell down on my knees and said "God I give up. It's not my way any more, but it's your way". I can't begin to tell you how much better it has been and it continues to get better each day. Please stop ignoring God's call and give in to Him today. I guarantee your life will be better once you do. Take some time and read the book of Jonah. It's not very long and you will find that Jonah went through more until he finally gave in. Let's learn from his mistakes and save ourselves a lot of pain and suffering.  


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