Last week, we looked at the Jonah Complex and the implications of trying to run from your purpose. This week I want to revisit Jonah and look at the circumstances that caused him to come to his senses and embrace his mission. Perhaps you will be able to identify with where he was, but you won't know whether you do or not until you read on. So don't stop here; read on.
ASLEEP IN THE STORM
When Jonah ran from God's presence, he got on a ship that was heading in the opposite direction from Nineveh. So God decided to get his attention. How? "Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up" (Jonah 1:4). That sounds like a hurricane or monsoon. The sailors on the ship panicked, so it must have been a massive storm. But where was Jonah in all this?
"But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep" (Jonah 1:5).
This tells me that you can become so accustomed to your bad circumstances that you adapt and go on living a normal life. You can learn to live with your unfulfilling work, meager wages or abusive work relationships. The storm can blow, the ship is about to be torn apart but somehow you sleep.
The captain of the ship went below and asked Jonah a question: "How can you sleep?" (Jonah 1:6). After the sailors determined by lot that Jonah was the reason for the storm, the sailors asked Jonah a series of other questions that I think have meaning for you and me today. They asked:
- Who is responsible for making all this trouble for us?
- What do you do?
- Where do you come from?
- Who are your people?
Jonah answered their questions honestly and told them that he was the cause of the storm because he was running from the Lord. If you look at the questions, however, you will notice that the sailors asked Jonah what he did, or his occupation. Jonah responded by telling them who he was, that he was supposed to be on a mission for his God.
My point is that Jonah didn't fully wake up until he admitted who he was and what he was created to do. After that, the men threw him overboard, the storm died down, a big fish swallowed Jonah and he did indeed go to Nineveh to deliver the word of the Lord.
Perhaps you need to ask yourself the questions that were posed to Jonah. Here is how I think you should look at them.
1. How can you sleep? Have you grown so accustomed to non-purposeful living that God has sent a storm into your life not to harm you but to re-direct you?
2. Who is responsible for making all this trouble? Are others being affected by your depression, lack of joy or sense of failure or insignificance?
3. What do you do? Is your current occupation God's best for you? What is your purpose? Are you fulfilling it? Do you derive your identity from what you do instead of who you are?
4. Where do you come from? Are you living the dreams you once had, or are they distant memories that resurface every now and then to haunt you, not to inspire you?
5. Who are your people? Are you living up to the fullness of your inheritance in the Lord? Are you working as part of a purpose-led team that is making a difference?
I urge you to take these questions seriously and to meditate on them in the coming weeks. I would also recommend that you record what you hear and see in some kind of journal or notebook. As someone said, the problem with taking mental notes is that they fade so quickly. Don't give up if you don't get any answers right away, just keep seeking and asking. I know that you will eventually get answers that will connect you with your purpose and that your purpose will lead you to happier and less stormy days. In the meantime, happy seeking and have a great week.
1. It looks like the dates for the 2008 Alaska Cruise will be Friday, July 4 to Friday, July 11. That is prime season and the boat will be Holland America's Amsterdam. I don't have the prices yet, but I wanted to get the dates on your calendar now so you can start making preparations. If you would like for me to communicate with you directly with all the details, just drop me an email and I will be glad to do so.
2. If the Lord lays it on your heart to support me while I am in Africa from now until September 30, I will appreciate your help. You can go to my website and donate using PayPal using your credit card or checking account. Or you can send a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 91099, Pittsburgh, PA, 15221 USA. Thank you for considering my request.