It’s hard to go against society. It’s hard to go against what people advise but it can be painful to go against God. Think of the life of Jonah. God let him know about trouble when he didn’t listen. It can be literally painful for me too: a pain in the ear, a pain in the teeth.
I’m a fearful self-preservationist. I want to keep the peace. I want other people to be happy. Honestly, I want other people to be happy with me. If I can keep my own peace I often won’t say anything I think others will disagree with. Let others do what they want whether it’s good, bad or ugly. I tell myself that if I stay out of it they won’t have cause to be angry with me.
Psalm 40: 9 ” I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness In the great assembly; Indeed I do not restrain my lips, Oh LORD, You Yourself know.”
If I speak about what is good, if I am an advocate for God, many people may dislike it. I was once getting a critique for an abstract painting in college. When asked what the painting was about I said it was about light. It was a purely abstract non-representational artwork. The person giving the critique said the idea of the painting was too exclusive. What about darkness? He asked what if people have different beliefs than I do? I’m pretty sure I hadn’t mentioned God, just light. Perhaps the man giving the critique could sense that the painting wasn’t just any light but it was representational of the light of God. I kept silent. What did I have to say? Was God trying to speak to him?
Also, what about darkness? What about darkness, and fear and sin? If I want to sin what is that to you? If you want to sin what is that to me?
Psalm 40: 1-2 “I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps.”
In the past several years I haven’t been so good about listening to God. I say I want to follow God but I don’t stop to listen to what He wants to tell me. Instead, I look at what everyone else is doing. I look intently at what other people are doing. I try to follow their advice and figure out what I should be doing. I keep thinking I should do this or I should do that and I try all kinds of things. I’ll think this or that is going to set me on a path to earning money and once I start earning more money I can do more of what God wants. That’s backwards. If I want to follow God I don’t get there by listening to everyone else’s ideas; I do it by listening to God. I kept trying different things until God decided to get my attention in a strong way. Remember I said I had a pain in my ear and a pain in my teeth? I got a bad ear infection for a month and a half. I got very tired and had to nap in the afternoons. God most often speaks to me through the words of the Bible but in this instance God had been trying to get me to meet with Him and read the Bible more for some time. God needed me to change drastically. God wanted me to stop and listen to Him. A bad ear infection made me pay attention. After I got better from the ear infection I got hit with a terrible dental problem. I was in a lot of pain and couldn’t really chew for a month. It’s three months on now and I’m mostly better but still recovering. God still needed to get my attention more because I easily start to slip back to my old ways. He wanted me to know that if I really do want to follow Him I must listen.
Jonah had to make a choice. If he wanted to move forward he had to follow God.
The only way forward is to follow God. All the ideas I was getting from other people were missing the point. They seem like great ideas but none of them included God. Without God all the ideas are empty. God gives life to every cell in my body. There is no me without Him. I owe God my life. He is my Creator and as a created being I owe Him everything.
I’m reminded of a time I could have gotten into an accident but disaster was averted by the hand of God. Sometime about 2003 – 2005 I was in a large group of people crossing a busy road. As we were reaching the other side of the road I was taking a step forward but I felt my front foot move back toward the other foot as I stepped down(meaning I didn’t really step forward as I had intended). I looked down at my feet confused. For a split second I thought it was odd. Then a bicycle zoomed past right in front of me. If I had taken a normal step the cyclist and I surely would have collided. Why did God bother to prevent this accident?
May you have a blessed Good Friday and Easter. God be with you.