What is your Nineveh?
How many times have we been angry with the Lord? Maybe our plans are better than His plans? Has fear taken over and our defense system is to get angry, be desensitized, or even ignore the voice of the Holy Spirit?
Could it be that the Lord’s plans are much broader and more beautiful than what ours seem at the moment?
Is He seeing something that we don’t and maybe we need to step out of our comfort zone and trust His plan?
It might bring us peace if we would follow His plans closely but that’s easier said than done, right?
Jonah didn’t agree with the Lord’s plans, and he greatly paid for it…however, he learned a tremendous lesson in about a week’s time. A lesson of love and mercy that drives out all fear!
The story is found in the book of Jonah. The Lord told Jonah to go to Nineveh and pray against the city because their wickedness was increasing. Jonah, however, walked away from what God was asking of him probably because he feared that the people of Nineveh would take his life. Instead, Jonah decided to go to another place on a ship. He wanted to get as far away from the presence of the Lord as he could.
The Lord didn’t let up. There was a tremendous storm on the sea, and the ship was going to sink. The ship-master knew that Jonah fled from the presence of the Lord because he told them what he did. Jonah offered himself to be thrown overboard and cast into the sea so it would calm down.
The Lord prepared a great fish to swallow him up, and Jonah was in the belly of this fish three days and three nights. Jonah prayed and cried to the Lord in the fish’s belly that his life would be spared. He came to his senses and asked for mercy with a voice of thanksgiving, and the Lord heard his voice and caused the fish to vomit out Jonah on the dry land.
Then the Lord came to Jonah a second time saying, go to Nineveh and preach what I’ve asked of you. So Jonah got up and walked a few days towards the city of Nineveh. He would have plenty of time to think while on this journey. When Jonah finally arrived in Nineveh, he began to preach what the Lord had instructed saying, “40 days and Nineveh will be destroyed.”
The people of Nineveh believed God, and they prayed. The king asked everyone to fast and turn from the evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. God saw their works, and how they turned from their evil way, and God repented of the evil that he had said he would do to them and he did it not.
Jonah’s message to Nineveh from the Lord was simple. It got their attention. I’m sure that Jonah had fear and braced himself for a hostile and violent response. Instead, the people listened! His words spread like wildfire and before long, the whole city was talking about Jonah’s prophecy of doom. Rich and poor, strong and weak, young and old were all caught up in the same repentant spirit.
Jonah allowed God’s discipline to work a thorough change in him. God had shown him love and mercy, saving him from drowning, holding back punishment for his rebellion, and giving him a second chance to carry out this assignment. After all of this, Jonah still hadn’t seen Nineveh as God did. God used Jonah as an occasion to show His divine mercy towards Nineveh, but Jonah only saw a city of wrongdoing.
Sometimes we don’t see others as God does, and He has to show us His love and mercy over and over again until we can show the same love and mercy to others.
My prayer is that we continue to allow the Lord to take our fears so that we can hear His voice. I want to learn from Jonah. Instead of fear crippling us, let’s follow God’s calling with His perfect love the first time around…even if we don’t see the beginning from the end, trust in the Lord.
So I leave you with one question. What is your Nineveh, or fear that you’ve encountered as a direct result of what God is showing you, or wanting you to do? Allow God’s perfect love to drive out our fear. There’s nothing more freeing than His love and mercy in our lives.
I John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.