Have you ever noticed how God calls us to do things that are outside of our comfort zones? I don't know about you, but I really find my comfort zones to be quite comfy. They're familiar. They're somewhat predictable. They're free from but begging for change.
Change, on the other hand, is absolutely something I struggle with. I mean, sure, I adapt and then celebrate the fact that I changed, but usually before the change really takes place, I'm overwhelmed, uncomfortable, kind of stressed, and unsure of my unfamiliar surroundings. I change best when it's my idea, and trust me, it's not usually my idea.
God has all these great ideas and plans for our lives and sometimes they're just a change we didn't see coming. Recently, my son was diagnosed with type one diabetes. In the midst of the shock and grief knowing that his life would never be the same again, we were hurled into this change. We opened up our brains, downloaded as much knowledge as we could soak up, and were sent on our way to care for our new, very sick, child. This was a change I didn't see coming. One minute he was perfectly healthy, and the next he has this life-threatening illness that he'll carry with him all his life (or until there's a cure).
My head spun for days. Taking on this new change and this new reality was growing pains that I didn't expect or want. I wanted (and still want) to go back to those blissful days where my son's pancreas worked just fine. For weeks, everything in my body just screamed, "I don't want to do this!" My heart breaks with every injection of insulin he receives. My brain still struggles to understand what happened to our last couple of weeks (because it's flown by in a blur).
Do you ever think about how our "I don't want to do this!" puts us in good company? There are so many people in the Bible who were hurled into uncomfortable callings, situations, and circumstances. I think about Moses not wanting to be God's mouthpiece, "Send someone else!" he said. I think about Gideon who didn't think he was the mighty man of valor that the messenger had called him. I think about Abraham being called to sacrifice his promised son, Issac. I'm quite sure that as he lifted the knife to sacrifice his son, he had that "I don't want to do this" screaming through his being. Even Jesus, knowing what He would endure on the cross asked for the cup to be removed from Him (Luke 22:42).
My favorite "I don't want to do this" person in the Bible would have to be Jonah. You can read his whole story in the book of Jonah (it's only four chapters) and I highly recommend it.
Jonah is my favorite because he's kind of the poster child for what not to do. He begins his journey in disobedience, then submits to God, then continues a really bad attitude as he found a nice little place to relax that looked over the city. He waited in that comfy spot for Nineveh's destruction. This particular action of his always horrifies me. To see a whole nation reaching out to God in repentance and to see God reaching back in kindness, and to still choose anger, resentment, and evil astounds me. But, like I said.... He's the poster child for what not to do.
Let's Talk about Four Lessons We Learn From Jonah's Unexpected Calling
No matter where we go or what we do, we can't escape God's presence. Jonah ran in the opposite direction of God's calling. He was swallowed up by a fish. Yet, God met him as Jonah ran away through the rising up of the wind and waves. God met Jonah in the belly of the fish. God led Jonah back to the place of obedience. God was there, through this whole journey, with Jonah.
When we choose obedience, it benefits the world. Think about what disobedience cost Jonah and those around him. The sailors had an eventful time on the water as they believed they would die. Jonah's disobedience could have cost the sailors their lives. Do you notice how God turned this circumstance around for the good? The sailors ended up believing in the God who could calm the storm! I also think about how Jonah could have been saved all that time, the energy, and the heartache associated with his disobedience. What about the people of Nineveh? They were looking at complete destruction without the intervention of Jonah's God-given message. Upon hearing the message, they humbled themselves in repentance and God chose to honor that by not destroying them as he had planned.
God knows each day of our lives before even one day had passed. Jonah may never have expected this call on his life, but God saw it coming from a long ways off. Despite knowing how Jonah would respond, God still chose Jonah. He wasn't surprised by Jonah's disobedience.
God's gifts and call are irrevocable. Just because Jonah said no and ran away doesn't mean that God changed his mind. I love how God still woos Jonah to obedience, even while Jonah was running. It took a three-day long "time out" in the belly of a fish for Jonah to finally "get it." God wasn't changing His mind. There were people out there who needed to hear His message. His message wasn't about Jonah's comfort zones. It wasn't about what Jonah wanted. God's call wasn't just in the messenger but also in the hearers of the message.
In the midst of the comfy comfort zones, the resistance to change, and the "I don't wanna do this" moments, one thing is absolutely certain, You are not alone. God is in these moments and in these circumstances. God called you, He won't leave you or abandon you. Instead, He woos you to obedience. He woos us with His great love for us and for those around us.
Isn't it a comfort to know that God is an active participant in every part of His call on our lives?
So what are you waiting for? Take that first step in obedience. I promise you, we won't regret it!