Psalm 40:8, “I delight to do Your will, O my God”
The son of a missionary couple in Zaire was playing in the back yard, when suddenly the voice of the boy’s father rang out from the porch, “Jonathan, obey me instantly and drop to your stomach!” Without hesitating the youngster did as his father had commanded. “Now crawl toward me as fast as you can!” The boy obeyed. “Stand up and run to me!” Jonathan responded obediently and ran to his father’s arms. As the youngster turned to look at the tree where he had been playing, he saw a large deadly snake hanging from one of its branches! At the first command of his father, Jonathan could have hesitated and asked, “Why do you want me to do that?”
On the other hand, he could have casually replied, “In a minute dad.” However, his instant obedience without questions saved his life! My friend, when God speaks to us in relation to something He wants us to do, our response should be like that of young Jonathan, obedience to the father. This story reminded me of God’s call to Jonah, and his response to that call, as recorded in Jonah 1:1-3. God gave a very clear and concise call to Jonah. A call I’m sure Jonah, a prophet and man of God understood, but yet he set out to be disobedient. Nineveh was east, Tarshish was west, and Jonah couldn’t have gone more contrary to the will of God than this.
Have you ever reached a point in your walk with the Lord, where you knew God was talking to you and wanted you to do a certain task? Like Jonah, you didn’t want anything to do with it. You didn’t think it was that important? My brethren, we must remember the sovereignty of God and if He has spoken to you about a certain task, it’s far better to be obedient to the Lord, than to ignore Him. Furthermore, God will allow you to go your separate way up to a point, as He did with Jonah. Of course, you know the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say. God caused a terrific storm to arise. To determine who caused the storm, the sailors cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. God had prepared a great fish for Jonah and as the sailors threw him overboard; this great fish came by and swallowed him.
Even through this, Jonah continued to rebel against God, even in the stomach of this great fish. Then after three days Jonah came to his senses and prayed. God hears prayer, and He answered Jonah’s prayer (Jonah 2:10; 3:1-3) as He will answer our prayer. I’m also mindful of another character found in God’s Word. His name is Saul, who was a man after his own heart, insisting on doing things his way rather than God’s way. In 1 Samuel 15, the Lord instructed Saul to attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and not to spare them. He wasn’t to let anyone or anything escape. Did Saul obey God? No, he spared the king’s life and kept the best animals and all that was good. Then when confronted by Samuel, Saul lied, made excuses, and insisted that he had obeyed the Lord. My friend, he was guilty of doing what he wanted and expecting God to approve of his incomplete obedience. Isn’t that exactly our attitude many times … we choose not to obey the Lord completely or not at all? We try to justify our own sinful behavior by telling ourselves that it doesn’t really matter to God, or that other Christians are far more sinful than we are … but God demands our total obedience.
Things haven’t changed much since the time of Jonah, Saul and other individuals recorded in God’s Word. Doing things our way, instead of God’s way, and drifting away from God will always cause us grief, heartache and pain. Jonah tried to ignore God’s call and look what happened to him. I’m reminded of the song entitled “I Did It My Way” that was recorded by Frank Sinatra. The song speaks about self-will, which is the overriding desire of many people today and that’s how the song ends, “I did it my way.” In the ordinary affairs of life, the exercise of self-determination may be commendable; however, in relationship to God, our way is never right and it never will be. Our self-will, wanting to do things our way, must be submissive to His will, as our Savior submissively prayed in Gethsemane’s Garden, “Not, my will, but Yours be done.” Whenever we feel like saying, “I want to do it my way,” remember that Jesus did it His Father’s way.
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay;
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still … Pollard