So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. (Jonah 3:3a)
[Note: Unfortunately I was not able to post last week. I didn’t want to wait until the end of this week to bring you this lesson, so here it is, four days late. I apologize for the delay but am trusting that, by God’s grace, it is right on time.]
Lesson 5 – Surrender.
Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:1-4)
According to TheTopTens.com (very unscientific) on-line survey , the five hardest things for people to say are:
“I love you”
“You were right”
“I forgive you”
I didn’t make the top five because for me one of the hardest things to say is “I give up”. While “I give up” isn’t on the list, I believe surrender is difficult for most people. Even when it means surrender to God you ask? Especially when it means surrender to God!
Let me say here, perseverance is a good thing. Scripture tells us that we are blessed when we persevere in the face of adversity.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)
It is when our perseverance is the result of our own stubborn will, (guilty) when we resist giving up simply because we don’t want to admit that someone or something has gotten the better of us (guilty), that the virtue of perseverance becomes the vice of pride.
But God’s purposes are not limited by man’s pigheadedness, for God is –
A long-suffering God. When Jonah said “no”, God persevered.
An ever-present God. When Jonah ran, God pursued.
An all-forgiving God. When Jonah repented, God pardoned.
Aren’t you glad we have a persistent God? Aren’t you glad that no matter how far or how fast we run, God always gets there before us? Aren’t you glad that no matter how badly we mess up, God is waiting, able and willing to make everything right? Aren’t you glad that God is in control? Aren’t you glad that through the life of Jonah we have witnessed how God takes our wills and our will nots and brings all things into His perfect plan and purpose?
This is the purpose that is purposed concerning the whole earth, and this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations. For the LORD of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back? (Isaiah 14:26-27)
So, what is our take-away this week? It is this. Whether you submit your will to Him or not, He is in control. Whether you surrender your life to Him or not, He is in control. You can hang on to your sin, hang on to your worries, hang on to the things you want to control – and like Jonah, you can go through a storm, be tossed overboard, end up in the belly of the fish and be spewed out onto some distant shore. If we learn nothing else in our adventure with Jonah, I pray that, sooner rather than later, we will learn of the foolishness of prideful persistence. For in the end, just like Jonah – we WILL go to Nineveh. And, as we will see in our next lesson, that’s a very good thing.
Until next time,