“What if God sent you to Nineveh? Would you go?”
I remember my Bible study leader’s words from a number of years ago, and I remember my silent answer.
God, please don’t ever send me to Nineveh.
You may recall Jonah in the Bible, and how he ran from God. Instead of going to Nineveh, where God told him to go, Jonah ran the opposite direction to Tarshish. You may also remember how God caused a violent storm on the sea, and how Jonah was swallowed by a whale.
I don’t know about you, but being swallowed by a whale doesn’t sound like a whole lot fun to me. But that’s how God got Jonah’s attention, and that’s what caused Jonah to eventually go to Nineveh.
Jonah and I have much in common. I’m one who has done my share of running from God. I’ve also done plenty of digging my high heels in, not willing to go where I felt God was leading me. If it didn’t make sense to my finite brain, or if I couldn’t see all the details, I often stayed right where I was.
It’s a wonder I’m not the one who was swallowed by the whale.
Not so long after my silent answer sitting in that Bible study, you can guess where God called me.
Yep, He called me to Nineveh.
Not to the real Nineveh, but to the one in my mind that was just like it. My Nineveh was the homeless and hurting population in our community. Jonah’s story impacted me greatly through that Bible study, and instead of running away, this time I said something different.
“God, if you say so.”
God often calls us to places we don’t understand. We can’t see the plans He has for us. We can’t see all the details. What He asks us to do often doesn’t line up with what we think we should do, or may look entirely different than what we’ve ever done. And, so, we’re faced with a decision. Follow His ways or our own?
I’m reminded of another person in the Bible, who also is an example for me. One who said yes to God, even though it made no sense to him… Simon Peter.
When he [Jesus] finished teaching, he said to Simon, “Push out into deep water and let your nets out for a catch.”
Simon said, “Master, we’ve been fishing hard all night and haven’t caught even a minnow. But if you say so, I’ll let out the nets.” It was no sooner said than done—a huge haul of fish, straining the nets past capacity. They waved to their partners in the other boat to come help them. They filled both boats, nearly swamping them with the catch. Luke 5:4-7 MSG
Can you imagine this sight? Tired fishermen. Ready to give up for the night. Who must have thought, “What does a Carpenter know about fishing?” Yet, they listened, and obeyed. Their obedience–and their nets–were rewarded.
God does the same miraculous work through our, “God, if you say so.”
What if Simon Peter didn’t lower his nets? What if the fishermen were like Jonah, and refused to do what Jesus asked? How different the ending might be. It causes me wonder how many opportunities did I miss in by stubbornness? How many blessings were withheld because of my disobedience?
Friend, is God leading you to a personal Nineveh today? Is He asking you to let out your nets one more time? Even though you’re tired of doing so? And even though you may question why?
My “God, if you say so,” more than filled my nets. God used it, and Nineveh, to transform my life. (I’ll share more in a post later this month.) I trust He’ll do something similar for you.
No matter where God calls us to go, or what He asks us to do, I pray we follow Simon Peter’s example. It might not make sense to us, and it might seem a bit crazy at the time. But, God knows what He’s doing, and friend, it’ll be worth it.
Get your nets ready.
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