I think that one of the greatest privileges we have as humans is the free will to choose. Choose what? Anything and everything. My clothes for the day or where I will eat dinner tonight are choices that are common. Sometimes I need to choose things that are more important, like summer activities for my kids or where to spend a tax refund. Every day is filled with all types of choices! And I get to make whatever choice I feel like making! When I choose something, or when the final decision is set, it means that I have already gone through a mental course of filters and biases. Example: we had macaroni and cheese for dinner. Here are some of the filters and biases that I would have had to process through to make that decision.
- What food is available to me right now?
- Am I feeding myself or my family as well?
- How much time do I have?
- Do I feel like taking the time to make something?
- Is this food healthy?
- Do I have vegetables to go with the main dish?
- What will my family think about this food?
- Did we have this food in the last week?
- What did I have for lunch?
Do you see what happens here? Every decision is the result of going through this process. I would guess that most often, this process is very fast or even unconscious. The more difficult the decision, the more time is spent in the decision-making process.
So what does this have to do with Haiti? In my first two articles, I explained the ideas of God creating me and then calling me. In this post, I will lay out the thought of God choosing me. And with help from one of scripture’s most well-known characters, I think that I will be able to make the case that God specifically chooses people for carrying out His will.
If you recall, I explained how God called me into the ministry. At that time, I did not know specifically what He meant. The calling was a beginning. I was now on a certain path heading in a certain direction. Today, twenty some years later, I know much more about what it is that God has called me to do. In fact, one of the things that He has chosen me to do is to start writing. God’s choosing me to write is part of my calling. See the distinction? I can be chosen many times while living out my calling. So let’s get to the Bible character I was referring to earlier and analyze this story.
Perhaps the most famous story that comes from the Bible is Jonah and the Whale. David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lion’s Den, and Noah and the Ark are also quite popular, but I think it is safe to say that Jonah is in the top three stories for sure. If you would like to read it for yourself, click here. I think you will find it beneficial to follow along.
God had called Jonah to be a prophet. Simply put, God would direct a prophet, like Jonah, to a certain location and instruct him or her to give a certain word, “Go here and preach this message.” Sounds pretty simple. I like Jonah because he shows us what happens when we exercise our free will and make a choice that does not line up with what God asks.
God instructed Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh. (1:1-2) This city is located on the banks of the Tigris River. It is literally hundreds of miles from the Mediterranean Sea. There was great sin and wickedness in Nineveh and God wanted to see these people turn their hearts to Him.
Side note: God is ALWAYS on the lookout for people to turn their hearts to him. Back to Jonah… But Jonah did not think this plan was very good. So he got into a boat and headed west. (1:3) It was not enough to just not go to Nineveh. It was not enough to stay where he was staying. It was not enough to rent a boat. Jonah wanted to go to the other side of the known world! Tarshish was a port city in Spain that was on the Atlantic Ocean! This was about as far as you could get from Nineveh. Wow! It would be like God calling me to New York so I buy a plane ticket and fly to Los Angeles. Jonah went west instead of east when God spoke to him.
Have you or I ever done that? God asks us to do something but we refuse or try to ignore it. Does that work? Do we really get away with it? We might think we do, but as we will see, God sees all, and a storm is brewing on the horizon.
And for more on that storm…check back within a week or so. But for right now, enjoy the smooth sailing.