“The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: ‘Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach the message that I tell you.’ Jonah got up and went to Nineveh according to the Lord’s command.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
One of the parenting books I read early on in this journey was Have a New Kid by Friday by Kevin Leman. Leman is a good writer and his sense of humor made it a fun read, but there was one idea that has really stuck with me over the years. The principle goes like this: B can’t happen until A does. The idea is that, if you’ve asked your kids to do something you want or need them to do (A), they can’t do whatever it is they might want to do (B) until they’ve accomplished A. We see a bit of this on the display in Jonah’s life right here.
Chapter 3 of Jonah’s story begins very similarly to how the whole book began back in chapter one. The book began like this: “The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it because their evil has come up before me.’ Jonah got up…” (Jonah 1:1-3a) See the overlap? There’s a bit of difference, but not much.
The real difference comes just after where I stopped here. In chapter 1 Jonah got up to flee to the other side of the known world. Here in chapter 3 Jonah finally gets up and actually goes to Nineveh. He finally does what God says…sort of (we’ll get to that tomorrow).
Think about this situation for a minute. After everything Jonah has been through, when he finally gets settled again the Lord calls him to do the same thing in the same place as He called him in the first place. What gives?
What gives is that God wanted him to do that and He hasn’t changed His mind about it. Believe it or not, that’s a more common thing than you might imagine. When God has called us to do something, He really does mean for us to do it. And to a certain extent, He will use that principle I learned from Leman (which he learned from God): B can’t happen until A does.
Let me explain. Have you ever hit one of those places in life where you feel like you’re not getting anywhere with God? You keep asking Him for direction, but it seems like He’s ignoring your pleas. It could be that you have some sin issue in the way that you’ve got to deal with before he’ll be able to talk to you, but it also could be He’s told you to do something and is just waiting on you to do it before He’ll give you anything else to do. He’s given you the direction you need to go and is waiting on you to go in it. Asking Him for more is going to be met with silence.
If we are ever going to go anywhere significant in this life (and you just may have to change your definition of significant in order to believe me here), we need to do what God says. Disobedience has no place in His plans. Servants who refuse to listen are servants who don’t get used.
God had told Jonah what He wanted him to do. When Jonah finally quit running from it and got in a place to listen to God again, He simply repeated the instructions almost verbatim. He would have saved himself a lot of time and trouble if he had just listened in the first place. The same goes in our own lives.
When God has told us to do something, we aren’t going to be able to go anywhere else with Him or do anything else significant for Him until we’ve done that first thing. B can’t happen until A does. And, if you want to know where to start with this, if you feel perhaps like you’ve been waiting forever to hear from God and aren’t getting anywhere, try simply looking in the Scriptures. God gave us plenty to do in there that will keep us busy for a very long time without ever hearing a single new word from Him. If we are going to become obedient servants who get sent and used in powerful ways, we need to get started by doing what His word already says. B can’t happen until A does.
So, what has God told you to do that you haven’t yet done? It’s time to get started on that. He’ll wait patiently for you, but the longer you take, the tougher your going will be because that’s what life apart from Him is like. Get started. There’s no time like now.