Where Did This Storm Come From?

“Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought tempestuous against them” (Jonah 1:13).

God had a specific assignment for Jonah. He had spoken to him, “Arise and go to Nineveh.” Jonah didn’t want to go, and so he went a different direction hoping that God would change his mind, forget about it, or that somehow it would just “go away.” Jonah ran and hid in the bottom of a boat, and his disobedience affected everyone else in the boat.

There are many people asking God, “What is your will for my life?” “What do you want me to do?” And God is not answering them; all they are hearing is silence in the midst of the storm that is raging around them. They pray and bind the devil, but it does not work because it is not the devil. God Himself is troubling the sea. Many times it is something simple that God has asked us to do. God eventually did talk to Jonah about the problem but His words never changed. He never reprimanded Jonah, “What do you think that you’re doing running away from what I told you to do?” God never discussed the matter with Jonah at all after the fish spat him out on the shore. In fact, He never even acknowledged Jonah’s disobedience. God only said one thing to him, “Arise and go to Nineveh.” They were the very same words that Jonah had heard the first time (Jonah 1:2, 3:2). Nothing was going to change for Jonah until he did what God had told him to do.

In the book of Ezra, through King Cyrus, God had instructed His people to rebuild the second temple. They began to build, but then, due to opposition, they stopped building. In the book of Haggai, the people had settled into their everyday lives and had forgotten about their God-given assignment to rebuild the temple. They were working hard and doing the best that they could to support their families and build their homes, but when they brought their paychecks home, the money supply would inexplicably dwindle (Haggai 1:1-11). God would blow upon it because there was something that he wanted them to do.

What has God told you to do? Many times when we are not hearing God’s voice, it is because He has already spoken. God is merciful, and will bring things back to us at times when we ask, but there comes a time when He expects us to do what He has told us to do, and to value His Word enough to write it down and obey. There have been times in my life when things did not seem to be working and God seemed to be silent. I was not hearing His voice like I was used to, and I kept asking Him, “What is going on Father?” “What do you want me to do?” And still nothing. Finally He would speak to me, “Go back to your notes.” I did this, and when I read the words on the paper, his grace met me. He was right there where I had left Him; God never moved, but I had. His grace was still on what He had told me to do, and when I obeyed, things turned around.

Not everyone is intentionally disobeying God’s commands as Jonah was. In Deuteronomy chapter 26, God’s people were to come before Him and declare that they had not transgressed His commands, nor had they forgotten them (Deuteronomy 26:13). Sometimes distractions can enter in and we forget, but Jesus told us to remain sober and vigilant and not to be overcharged with the cares of this life. He told us that we could miss certain things if we were not attentive. Distractions can destroy what God wants to do in and through us, but though we call them distractions, the real issues lie in the heart.

“A double-minded man is unstable in all of his ways…” (James 1:8).

Jesus talked about the heart (soil) in Mark 4:14-20, “Afflictions and persecutions, the cares of this world, deceitfulness of riches, lusts of other things entering in, choke the word…” We always focus on what we value. If we value God’s Word, then we will be able to keep it. We will let nothing take it from us.

Our disobedience can affect everyone around us. Jonah’s sailors did their very best in order to save the ship. They were even willing to sacrifice everything that they had by throwing it overboard, but to no avail. All of their efforts were futile. Jonah could have blamed his predicament on the sailors, “You are experienced sailors, why don’t you DO SOMETHING about this!?” But the problem was not the sailors. The disciples were in a similar situation, and they woke Jesus in the boat, “Master, do you care not that we PERISH?” They blamed Him for not doing something about the storm, when it was their own fear and unbelief that enabled the storm to continue and threaten the ship (Mark 4:35-41).

Jonah’s boat can be many things. It can be a career, a relationship, your children, and it can even be the church. The church is a good place to hide because it brings religious comfort; “I am serving in the church,” “I am on the praise and worship team…” But are you doing what God has told you to do?

There are some individuals, churches, and ministries experiencing hardships and difficulty, not because of the devil, but because they are not obeying God. What has God told you to do?

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