My sister, Ionie, and I are the queens of sending random, unsolicited messages at all hours of the night. This Friday night I went to sleep later than usual because I decided to start washing five loads of laundry at 7pm in the evening and I had to stay awake for each load to come out of the dryer. Did I mention that I also cleaned my entire bathroom and attended two conference calls during that same time? Ok, I am simply a random person; when the mood strikes, I move. Anyway, I was in the middle of my nightly prayer (something that I have been slacking on, to be honest) when I heard my iPad ding. The ding is a familiar sound that tells me that someone has sent me a message on Facebook messenger. I mentally noted the time (sometime after 11pm) and thought [mid prayer], “who is messaging me now?!” When I rose from my prayer I saw that the culprit was none other than Ionie- my sister who never sleeps. You see, during this quarantine she has felt this amazing calling to start her own business (click HERE to support her!) and she was sending me mock ups of her business cards… at 11:15pm. She didn’t care that this was a group message that only one person was responding to, she had something to share and our silence was not gonna stop her! She is famous for getting her message across regardless of the responsiveness of the receiver, she is a mother after all and from what I hear, that is par for the course. Yet as I read her message Friday night I had one response:
Go. To. Sleep.
Three simple words yet after hitting SEND I realized that the “simple” directive may not be so simple when one’s heart is set on doing something else. My sister couldn’t go to sleep at that moment because she was knee-deep in building her business. Likewise, our Bible friend of today couldn’t go to the place that he was supposed to go because he was knee-dig in his own thing. Let’s take a minute right here to read about our old friend, Jonah. Open your Bible to the book of Jonah. Under typical circumstances I would direct you to a verse or two or maybe even a brief passage… but considering our current quarantined status, we ain’t in typical circumstances. Just bear with me, the read is worth it.
In Jonah chapter one we meet this prophet who is given a directive to go to the city of Nineveh and, “cry out against it” and preach to them about God. However, as we continue to read, Jonah wanted no parts of that missionary trip so he instead decided to hop on a ship and go anywhere but Nineveh. While journeying on the sea in this sea vessel, God sends a storm so huge and powerful that the others on the ship knew it was surely God causing the rage of the sea. The people cried out, “Yo, if God is calling you, can you please answer Him cuz we not tryna die?!” Ok, that’s my paraphrase of chapter one… but I think it’s pretty close to the author’s words. No? Ok; read the passage yourself then. Eventually the men kicked Jonah off the boat and God allowed Jonah to be swallowed up by a giant fish where he stayed for three days and nights. Can we pause right here and be honest with ourselves? Has God ever had to stop you right where you were, swallow you in isolation, just so that He could speak to you with no distractions and no interruptions? That’s where Jonah is in chapter two, he is in the belly of divine isolation (or, divine quarantine) with God and realizing what God has called him to do. [Hold onto that nugget for later…]
In chapter three Jonah reaches Nineveh and finally does what God had called him to do- speak to the Ninevites. As God would have it, the people began to fear God and turned from their wicked ways. They believed in Him and sought Him as their God. The Bible says that “God saw their works… and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them… (Jonah 3:10).” And, naturally, Jonah was BIG mad that God forgave them so easily. In his mind, judgment should have been swift and harsh, yet God chose mercy instead, sparing the people from what their sins had warranted. What a merciful God we serve!
As this quarantine lingers on into a new month with varying mandates on social distancing and preventative measures, I recall a meme that I saw on social media. When I saw this picture I think I literally laughed out loud.
Whoever created this meme was equating this massive quarantine time to the way the passengers on that boat with Jonah must have felt. I mean, can you imagine enduring the hand of God that was meant for someone else… and the only really you are enduring it is because that person is being hard-headed? Come on now, throw aside your own agenda and do what God is telling you to do.
Just… Go. To. Nineveh!
Beloved, as we proceed into another month of modified/quarantine living, I want to share a secret with you, lean in close so that I can whisper this into your listening ear: you are Jonah and Nineveh is waiting for you.
Because of Jeremiah 29:11 I know that God has a divine plan for your life however, because of the book of Jonah, I believe that you (and me, too) are not walking in the divine calling that He has for you. Maybe He has called you to preach to His children; maybe He has called you to sing, act, dance, produce, draw, build, etc. IDK what your calling may be specifically but I know that God is allowing the entire world to come to a grinding halt so that we- you and me- can focus on Him and His calling for our lives. There is something that we are called to do and God has given us that swallowed-up-in-His-isolation-fish time to get our lives in sync with His plan. God held unto Jonah for three days and three nights before releasing him in Nineveh; Beloved, how long do you need Him to hold you here before releasing you into your destiny?
Just as I had to pull my sister from the late night work of her hands with three simple words, I am pulling you (and me, too) out of the work of our hands. It is time for us to stop running from what God has divinely prepared for us and step fearlessly into His calling for us. Like Jonah in Nineveh, so many lives will be changed and souls will be saved, God will get the glory in it all, and we will all rejoice and praise God together. But first, we have to set aside our plans and paths, relinquish our lives to God and simply…
Go. To. Nineveh.