Have YOU ever had a time in your life (a day, week, month, etc.) where you felt as if you were living out the life that Job did? You know one of those times, or time frames, where everything seemed as if it were a battle? Getting out of bed? Just making a cup of coffee? Having a bad month, ALL DAY LONG? You know, REALLY BAD?
It seems as though this past two, or so, months has been just that way. At work, attempts to tackle the littlest of tasks at home, flying off the handle at really stupid mundane things, and so forth. It is as though nothing is going my way, nothing I attempt is working, nothing I try ever seems to go well…for me at least. Although, looking back on it all, I was able to make either my wife or neighbors laugh their butts off. The unfortunate thing is that in those moments I go back to those times when I was in the worst places in my life, cussing and swearing like a drunken sailor on shore leave. (Sorry to all those who were in the Navy; sadly…I was in the Air Force…) Bad habits die hard, that is a fact of life…if WE permit it!
However, this does show me the limitations that I have placed upon my own life. God did not make us drones, He made us sovereign moral entities. Meaning we can choose all things within all aspects of our lives. After all, our Lord wants us to surrender our entire lives, souls, & bodies to Him…without hesitation. We are to make that choice! We each have placed some limitation(s) on that aspect of our lives. But our Creator is a gracious God who gives us all the possible chances we can possibly receive in our lives, in order to change our lives around. In Jonah 3 we are told,
“Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time” ~Jonah 3:1
Also, we were told in the Gospels to forgive our brothers and sister. Though they were slightly differing accounts, the message is to forgive them constantly; just as we seek forgiveness from our Heavenly Father for all the wrong doing, sins, slip ups, etc. Name them what you want to…they are/were the nails in the hands and feet of our Lord, Jesus! YES, OUR SINS were what placed Jesus on the cross and the very nails which held Him there! Our God is a generous and gracious Lord! Even Jonah knew the kind of God he was dealing with when he first received the word of the Lord to go to the Ninevites. Because Jonah knew God would forgive them had they repented.
It is my understanding, through some research, that the Ninevites (Assyrians) were a cruel and brutal people and conquering force. It is reported that they would bury a man up to his neck in the hot desert sand and impale their tongue with a metal thong – the heat would drive the person mad just before death. It was also said that they would take the women as booty and brutally kill the men and children. There were a great number of other forms of torture they practiced. Maybe some of this sounds familiar, consider that which is happening in the middle east with the Muslim Jihadists and members of ISIS.
Well, getting a bit off track there…sorry!
The point being is that God places a great many “learning obstacles” in our way, that we may learn from them. Unfortunately, many of us (me in particular!) do not learn from our mistakes the first time through…or the second…the third…well, the list could go on. We, the species of man are, in essence, failures in God’s eye’s! Sounds a bit futile and nihilistic. But the sad true fact is that we will never be perfect in God’s eye. But our Creator did not do us a disservice, but gave us a great gift:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” ~2 Timothy 1:7
While the NIV says ‘timid’, the KJV & NKJV both stated ‘fear’ which I find to be a much better word, though both can be used. The word ‘fear’ seems to be a more urgent necessity, in my opinion.
It is also my suspicion that if Jonah had opted to choose to run away again in the opposite direction from the Ninevites, he would have ended back in the belly of the fish, and as many times until he learned that God needed him to preach God’s warning to them. God wants us all to purposefully and will all of our hearts to turn to Him and submit ourselves (heart, mind, soul, & spirit) to His will. We have a purpose that is in accordance with His will. Unfortunately, our pride and love of this world keeps shining through. Yes, regardless of what you may believe about yourself…to turn to the side of God’s will is to show a love of this world or pride.
Though, all things seem to be against you, you are not necessarily out of God’s will. It may actually be that you are on the right track, but the evil one is fighting against you. Why? Because he wants you to not care anymore, nor seek God’s will, way, or purpose in your life. You need to watch more reality television or something else serves no useful purpose in your life or that serves no useful purpose in the furtherance of God’s glory!
We are in desperate need to change our lives around to seek a purpose and meaning that we should further & promote God’s message. After all, we were mandated to:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ~Matthew 28:19-20 NIV
We have an obligation. We have been given an order, a mandate, to do the bidding of our God. If we truly believe Jesus is the Son of the Most High God, then we are obligated to follow His command(s)! Because it is through our faith in Jesus that we have been adopted unto God as our Father. Such faith is attributed to us, as it was to Abraham, as righteousness. (see Romans 8, Romans 9, Galatians 4, and Ephesians 1.)
We can change our ways, but we must first seek forgiveness and submit ourselves. We must work even harder at such a thing, seeking God’s help and a rejuvenation of our Spirit which resides within us as a gift from God. So, I am still working on me…what do you need to learn? Are you as thick headed and prideful as I? I hope not, many of you probably will learn after the first or second chastisement. At least that is my hope and prayer for you!
May God Richly Bless You All!
MK Murphy, PhD, DD