ODJ: Intentional Defiance

January 16, 2017 

READ: Jonah 1:1-2:2 

I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me! (2:2).

A woman was running in a half-marathon in Ontario, Canada. It was a warm-up for the Detroit Marathon, the race in which she hoped to qualify for the renowned Boston Marathon. Somehow she missed the turn for the half-marathon and instead ran twenty-six miles—the complete marathon! Not only did she complete it, she posted the fastest time for a female runner and automatically qualified to run the Boston Marathon.

The woman’s wrong turn was unintentional, but it worked out well. The prophet Jonah, however, intentionally made a wrong turn. After God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and announce His judgment, “Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord” (Jonah 1:1-3). Amazingly, God still brought good out of His prophet’s defiance. I imagine that most of us have dared to defy Him and lived to tell the tale. This doesn’t speak of any greatness on our part, but rather of His mercy.

Jonah hoped he could “escape from the Lord” (v.3). He was so convinced of his likely success that he slept peacefully below deck until some frightened sailors woke him. The prophet couldn’t run from God as He sent a violent storm to get the wandering prophet’s attention (vv.4-6). When the sailors threw Jonah overboard, the sea became calm and the men stood in awe of God and His power. After three days and nights in the belly of a huge fish, Jonah finally “cried out to the Lord in [his] great trouble and [the Lord] answered [him].” He “called to [Him] from the land of the dead and [the] Lord heard [him]!” (2:2).

God hears us when we turn to Him from our wanderings. If we’ve chosen a wrong turn, let’s confess it and find forgiveness in Him today! (1 John 1:9).

—Ruth O’Reilly-Smith

365-day plan: Genesis 25:19-34

Read Isaiah 30:20-21 and be encouraged by a God who is with you to discipline and lead you away from wrong turns. 
How have you been running in the opposite direction of something God has called you to do? What path of grace and restoration has He revealed to you?