Are you on the right track? Or, like Jonah are you forging your own path which is in the complete opposite direction?
God is sovereign. God is all-powerful. God is fully in control. God has a plan and a will for every one of His people. There is a design, and a plan for the entire creative work of God and that includes you and I. For those of us who are Christ's, who have placed our faith in the Savior, we have been regenerated and we are made alive in Christ, and therefore, we are now able through the power of the Holy Spirit to live out that life God has designed for us.
However, what if we find ourselves on the wrong track? Or rather, what if we are on the right track but we are going the wrong way on it? We can certainly find ourselves in varying stages of this metaphor over the course of our lives.
For instance, there have been times in my life when I have in fact been on the right track, and I was even going the right way! The problem in my situation was that I was not putting for the correct amount of effort and was not taking God's will for my life seriously enough to really make any progress.
There have been other times where I may have thought I was heading the correct direction and while it may have certainly seemed that I was making forward progress, the problem was that I was on the completely wrong track! I like to refer to these times in my life as hindrances. They were things I certainly had talent and ability to do, but they were not the things God created me for so any success I was having in these areas were never going to bring me the amount of joy and contentment that I would find in walking in God's perfect will for my life.
Furthermore, when we are not in God's will we will never be able to bring Him the most glory because God gets the most glory when we are living in the perfect center of His will for our lives.
Finally, there are times when I have just completely fled from God's will. I either saw what was on the horizon or I could feel the Holy Spirit convicting me in an area or pushing me to make a change, and I caught on to it and instead of pursuing it or embracing it, I fled!
In these times we can feel like we are the only ones who have ever acted like we do. However, this is simply not the case. One thing I have learned in my life or now 34 years is that we are never alone! We are never the "only one" who has ever been through whatever we are going though.
Such is the case with Jonah as well. For Jonah's story, while it does contain a great fish and three days inside it, the main thing to draw from the story and book of Jonah is that we do in fact serve a God of Restoration. Furthermore, many who have called on the name of God have struggled with their destiny, and the plan God had for them and have often times fled from it.
The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me."
Here in the book of Jonah we see specific instructions given. Jonah is instructed to arise from where he is at and go to Nineveh. While we are not given a specific time frame of how long Jonah would be there it is not incorrect to assume that this was not something as easy as getting into the car and riding to the next town for a typical Sunday service. This would involve effort on the part of Jonah, and might even involve being there for quite some time, for Nineveh was a massive city and took multiple days just to walk through it.
I would also like to note that in my observation this is not the first mission God had ever sent Jonah on. This type of mission is not something God would send a new Christian or new prophet for that matter on, as Jonah was one of God's prophets during this time.
We read about Jonah also in the book of 2 Kings.
He restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, which He spoke through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher.
From this text in 2 Kings we are provided a little more information about Jonah. He was a prophet in Israel and I believe that by the time we get to the book of Jonah he was a seasoned prophet. If you examine your own life you will see that the most common, consistent mode of progress involves gradual progress of both ability and difficulty.
God won't just simply throw us straight into the most difficult task we will ever face if we are not prepared for it. Now, I speak from an overall perspective. There are certainly times in our life where we will be in over what our ability can handle so that we learn to fully depend on God, but in the overall perspective, God will continue to increase our realm of influence and our sphere of responsibility as we show that we are humble, capable, and obedient.
Also from this verse we find out that Jonah was used at least once in the past to provide a word from the Lord as to future events that were going to take place. He is referred to as a servant of God, so this speaks to the fact that Jonah was someone who loved the Lord and was obedient. Just because one can be described as loving the Lord and being obedient, doesn't mean they do it perfectly at all times.
Jonah is instructed in the book of Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach the word of the Lord! In their case the word of the Lord involved a need for repentance and sorrow over their sin, and a turning to the One true God!
In God's instructions he tells Jonah that their wickedness has come up before Him. This means that their sin had been ongoing and undoubtedly growing in quantity and intensity. The time for judgment had come and unless the people of Nineveh repented their judgment would come.
Another thing to understand about this instruction from God is that Jonah was instructed to perform inside the parameters of his calling. God will never call you to perform that which you were not created to do. If you find yourself on the wrong track or going the wrong way on the right set of tracks it can only be credited to our own sin and putting self above God.
Jonah was instructed to go to Nineveh and do exactly what God called him to do, and that is preach repentance and preach the One true God.
In my life God has firmly planted me right where I belong. The function which I now perform is square in the center of God's will for my life. He created me for this purpose so if I ever find myself off track it will be due to my own sin and not due to any error on God's part.
He created me and He knows me perfectly. God also knew Jonah perfectly.