Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Swallowed by a Fish

I have the most amazing group of moms that I have the pleasure of meeting with every Tuesday morning at our church. I started going when Little A was a few months old and have loved it ever since.  The group of ladies changes but they are all wonderful and have been used to bless my life so much.

It has been so wonderful to have women that are struggling through life being mothers, wives, and followers of Christ. They always have questions or comments that fit so well with the things that have been on my heart or driving me crazy also. God has used each one of them and the speakers that come in,  to teach me and grow me into a better follower. The time I get to spend with those ladies is often what keeps me sane and helps to fill me up since I often miss a lot of the sermon on Sundays with a toddler and baby that are often tired, grumpy or hungry.

Right now we have a special speaker in for the next few weeks talking to us about Godly Parenting. Today was a wonderful session about Obedience. It really hit home for where we are at with Little A entering the Testing Twos.

During the morning the main thing that kept coming into my head was the story of Jonah and his disobedience to God.

We all know the story of God sending Jonah to Nineveh to proclaim the message of the Lord. Jonah says no and runs away. He gets onto a ship headed for Tarshish and while he is at sea the Lord sends a great storm on the sea. The boat threatens to break so the crew starts throwing things overboard and praying to their gods. Jonah, asleep in the ship is awoken by the captain who wakes him up to call on his god. The crew casts lots to see whose fault it is, Jonah fesses up and tells them to throw him overboard. They don't, the winds pick up more. They finally throw him overboard and the sea calms immediately. Then God sends a huge fish to eat Jonah. Jonah is in the fish for three days and nights before it vomits him onto dry land. God again send him to Nineveh where he finally goes and spreads Gods message. Nineveh repents and calls on God.  Jonah is angered by Gods forgiveness of the people of Nineveh and he sulks and goes out of the city to watch and wait for its destruction.

One of the things the speaker pointed out this morning was the difference between compliance and obedience. The biggest difference between the two is the attitude with which they are done. Often our children will do what they are told but will take their time doing it, do it with attitude, or do it halfheartedly, that is compliance.  Obedience is doing what is asked quickly and with a happy heart.

Jonah, completely disobeyed the Lord the first time around. He ran away from what God told him and he was punished for it.

Then when he finally does what he is supposed to it seems like he did it out of compliance and not from a place of obedience.

When I read through the story I can see Jonah acting like an angry child. First he runs away. Then he apologizes   Then he goes to Nineveh and stomps his feet all the way there, reluctantly does what he was told and then slams the door angrily on the way out. Then he sits and pouts and is angry with God for not doing what he wanted.

At first when I thought about Jonah and his disobedience I could see my daughter in it.  And then, slowly, it hit me and I could see myself all over it.

How often do we completely run away from what God has called us to do? We allow fear and doubt to lead us into disobedience and they hold us back from stepping out in faith. How often do we miss out on seeing the amazing hand of God move in His power, because we failed to follow? (How many times should we have been swallowed by a fish?)

I feel like it is so much easier to call ourselves on our complete disobedience to God than it is to realize when we have done what was asked but did it with angry hearts. Often when we do step out and follow God we do it out of compliance and not out of obedience. We, like children, roll our eyes and grumble under our breath because its hard, uncomfortable or embarrassing.

These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
Matthew 15:8 

"Partial obedience is disobedience"
The speaker this morning said this and it totally resonates with what I am trying to say. 

When God tells us to do something it is not okay to do it our way. We need to be fully obedient in heart and body and step out to do what we were told. 

A few years back I had the pleasure of hearing Beth Moore speak about God telling her to brush a mans hair.  She fought and argued with God and then followed him. 
Please follow this link and listen to her story, no one could tell it like her and it is so worth hearing.

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