Running or choosing not to act upon a command, which we believe is from God, is disobedience. So is our unwillingness to submit to the authority of God by surrendering our wants to His will. And this has consequences. Look at Jonah. When we know God is asking us to do something why do we run? Why does our fear cause us to be disobedient to God? Here are three lessons on disobedience we can learn from what happened with Jonah.
Lesson 1: We can’t run from God
Jonah tried to run away in disobedience. In his attempt to escape the consequences, he boarded a ship to Tarshish to flee from the presence of God (Jonah 1:3). But he didn’t make it very far, instead, he was caught in a storm (v.4). The response to our disobedient behaviour is to flee in denial or shame. We choose to avoid communion with God as we know what we have done. We should know this is futile, as the Psalmist writes:
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold You are therePsalm 139:7-8
There is truly nowhere we can run or hide that God will not find us, even in our disobedience. We may distance ourselves from His presence but God is still there, overseeing everything. Jonah learnt this the hard way when the captain and crew of the ship discovered the storm was from God. We can learn from his choices.
Lesson 2: Disobedience costs, Grace restores
The immediate price Jonah paid was to be thrown from his escape ship into the sea. Eventually, he ended up in the belly of a whale for three days (Jonah 1:10-17). When we run, where does our disobedience lead us? Most times we end up in situations we shouldn’t be in, doing things we shouldn’t be doing which leaves us with regrets about our poor choices. Thankfully, we are graced with a merciful and kind God who offers us forgiveness for our wrongdoings just as He did for the people of Ninevah.
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.Jonah 3:10
One may question where the grace would be in this situation for Jonah? Well, although Jonah was stuck in a whale, he wasn’t digested by the whale but thrown out after a few days unto dry land as God instructed (Jonah. 2:10). Despite our disobedience, as with Jonah, God still finds a way to show mercy and deliver us from our mistakes.
Lesson 3: God knows best
In this case, Jonah’s disobedience would have led to the perishing of the people of Nineveh. Jonah had assessed the situation and decided they were not worthy for him to do as God commanded. But how much did Jonah really know about God’s plan? We too can make harsh and quick conclusions about the task God has asked us to complete. The challenge seems too big, the risk seems too much thus we decide it is not worth it and choose to do the opposite of what God wanted from us. We are disobedient.
Yet God has given us everything we need pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). If God needs us to go talk to that stranger on the street, give money, travel on a mission trip, quit our jobs or anything that may seem out of the norm – our response should be yes, “not my will but Yours be done”. Just as Jesus did when He went unto the cross and died for our sins. We only have to trust.
Whatever God is asking of us today, instead of running in disobedience, turn to him and ask for strength. There are times when it’s just our fear or feelings of inadequacy stopping us from fulfilling God’s request. So instead of running away, run to the source who will surely supply what we need (Phil 4:19).