In a personal study this past week of the book of Jonah in the Bible, I noticed something I hadn’t seen before. Jonah actually “paid the fare” – or paid the price – to get on the ship he used to run away from God. Yes, he paid a price to flee from God. But he didn’t pay just any old price. He paid the price. The price he paid to board the ship that would take him on his flight from God was nothing compared with the price he paid in the grand scheme of things when he chose to run from the Lord.
I am tempted to laugh at Jonah for being so foolish to think that paying for a ticket to board a ship would actually gain him freedom from the Lord and what the Lord was calling Him to do, but I have done the very same thing far too many times to laugh at Jonah for what I, too, have done. Though I have not paid for a ticket aboard a ship to run from God, I have paid a hefty price through the years each time I chose to disobey the Lord. So how can I call Jonah foolish when I have done the very same thing – countless times.
When are we ever out of the Lord’s sight? We’re not. So to actually pay money with the foolish notion that we can outrun God is – well, exactly that. Foolish. But more foolish than the price some of us have paid in money is the price we have paid with our lives. Just read the relatively short book of Jonah in the Bible to see the lengths Jonah went to – and the price he paid beyond a ship ticket – in his flight from the Lord’s call on his life.
What happened to Jonah in the end? He repented. He cried out to the Lord from the belly of the whale (he had already been thrown off the ship as a result of his disobedience) and ended up high-tailing it back to the Lord – and the Lord’s call on his life. Did he like the end result? Did he enjoy what God had called him to do? No. Not at all. But he did it anyway. He chose ultimately to obey. He had learned his lesson – or, lessons, to be more accurate.
So was the price he paid to run from God worth it at the end? No, it was not. In fact, it was not worth it from the very start. Jonah should have known better. But who am I to judge? Each time I choose to disobey God, I should have known better. In fact, I know better. God knows my whereabouts regardless of where I am. So why pay the price? Why not obey from the start?
When God called Jonah to rise up from where he was and make his way to Ninevah to speak as the prophet he was to the people of Ninevah, he could have risen up and obeyed. Instead, he rose up and fled. Ultimately, once he repented, after he had paid a very high price, he rose up and obeyed.
How about you? Are you still paying the price of disobedience? Have you bought a ticket to board a ship to take you far away from God? Are you already aboard the ship? Or, are you in the belly of the whale experiencing hell? Have you realized God knows your whereabouts, ship or no ship? Whale or no whale? Disobedience is disobedience, whether aboard a ship, in the belly of a whale, or hiding under the covers of your bed refusing to do with your life what God has called you to with the life He has given you.
Is God calling you? Has He asked you to do something? Have you run the other way? Are you debating what to do? Have you called the travel agent to see just how expensive the ticket will cost to run the other way? Or have you decided to try life God’s way? Are you willing to pay the price of disobedience? Or, do you desire to see what your life would be like if you surrendered it completely to God?
Why not stop paying the price of disobedience. Jonah, ultimately, repented. He gave up his life of flight, and decided to pursue the Lord instead.
How about you?