Have you ever thought, “God must have something more for me”? Many people that I have talked to have answered that question yes. There is a longing in their heart that there is something more significant for them to accomplish.
God had something significant for the Old Testament prophet Jonah. But Jonah had a problem. He had a prejudice. He had made up his mind about the people of Nineveh. So when God sent him there to warn them of the coming judgement, he didn’t go. He knew they might repent, and he knew God would forgive. So he decided to run to Tarshish (read Jonah 1).
I have to confess, I have a prejudice. I don’t like it at all, but I have it. When I see a bumper sticker with “UK” on it, I immediately think, I don’t like those people. It’s stupid I know. Some of my best friends are UK fans. But it seems there are so many UK fans around here, I have to fight that prejudice everyday.
Jonah was a prophet, but he was very much like you and me. We all have prejudices. Understand not all prejudices are racism. But they can be destructive all the same. A prejudice is having a pre-set belief or attitude about someone or something regardless of the facts. Our prejudices can keep us from experiencing everything God has for us. They can rob us of our joy. They can cloud our judgment and disable our effectiveness.
Our prejudices can keep us from experiencing everything God has for us.
The Bible says in Romans 12:2, that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. The Bible word for this is Repent. Repent means to change our minds. It is giving up our way of thinking and aligning our thoughts with God’s.
Let’s go back to Jonah. He was all messed up in his thinking too. He thought he could ignore his calling and run from God. The truth is God respects our freewill and allows us to ignore our calling. However, it leaves us wanting. Our calling is what God has prepared in advance for us to do and us for (see Ephesians 2:10). So it is tied into our being fulfilled and at peace with ourselves.
Our calling is what God has prepared in advance for us to do and us for.
But the truth is if we run from God, He will pursue us. The storm in Jonah 1, was God pursuing Jonah. God loved Jonah. God loves you. This is the message of Jonah 1. God loves me so much He pursues me when I stray. Want some proof – Jesus said, God is like the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep and goes and finds the one lost lamb.
Let me share with you four things about the storms in our lives:
- Not all storms are from God. Just because there is a storm in your life, it doesn’t mean you our outside of God’s will. We have an enemy who seeks to destroy us. He wants to distract us so we lose our focus on God. It is important to discern the origin of our storms.
- When storms are brewing in our lives, we are often the last to notice. The sailors where so afraid, they were throwing the cargo off the ship. All the while Jonah was sleeping below deck. Our friends and family often see our storms way before we do and we don’t want to listen to them…
- Our storms impact others. The storms in our lives impact the people around us. But the good news is this, God takes our best and our worst and uses them for our good and His glory. He also uses them in the lives of others. In Jonah 1, God used Jonah’s storm to reveal Himself to the sailors and it changed their eternal destiny! God can use your storms to show people His love and glory.
- When God sends a storm, He provides a place to process. Jonah’s prejudice was so strong, he chose suicide by sailor over the salvation of the Ninevites. So he had the sailors throw him into the sea. And God sent a large fish (probably a whale) to swallow him. He had time to process the whole experience in the belly of that fish. God will give you space to process as well. When you do, here are two questions to flesh out: 1). What is God saying? and 2). What Am I going to do about it?
In Jonah’s day, people were very superstitious. It was a tradition to cast lots to discern the will of the gods. God intervened in the casting of lots to reveal His will. One example is the apostles cast lots to decide who should replace Judas. Today, we are very scientific. We use logic to make decisions. I am confident that God uses logic to guide us. However, there is another way. Instead of relying on superstition or science, we can lean into the supernatural. What if we just asked God to reveal to us what He is doing and where He is going?
When I was an immature believer, I thought of God as my King. And He is. I wanted to please Him. And there is nothing wrong with that. But I thought I got my orders from Him and then He would help me accomplish them. That is all backwards thinking. It was a prejudice about God.
Listen to what King David wrote in Psalm 139:7-12 “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”
God is not a task master. He is a loving and perfect Father. David went on to write about how God personally created us in our mother’s womb and knew us completely. Then David penned this line Psalm 139:17, “How precious are your thoughts concerning me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” God thinks precious thoughts of me all the time. WOW!
How do we realize the something bigger God has for us? You have to change the way you think. Repent. Be transformed by the renewing of our mind. President Abraham Lincoln said, “You can be sad that a rose bush has thorns, or you can be amazed that a thorn bush has roses.”
Yes, God is our King. But He invites us into a relationship with Him. Jesus said in John 15:15,“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
And He invites us into His business, His purpose, His mission. Not to go do it with His help, but to join Him. To help Him as He does it. Not because He needs our help, He just wants us to be part of this grand adventure to love others as with Him. This is where we discover the “more” God has for us!