Disobedience isn't Hopeless

I was thinking about Jonah the other day. You know, the story of the man who ran from God and ended up in the belly of the fish! Then he finally went to Nineveh to do as God had asked. It’s a great story. But I had to read it again to see what the impact of Jonah’s decisions had on those he encountered. What I found was quite interesting. The thing is, we forget that both our obedience and our disobedience can impact the lives of people around us. 

I used to work in a program for youth who had committed their first criminal offense. Instead of court,  youth would learn how their decisions impacted those around them and what could be done to make things right. All too often, we forget that people see us and our behaviors, and that our behaviors are like ripples from a rock dropping into the pond. Experiences do not occur in a vacuum. Youth would learn about how acts of vandalism or theft can impact the community as a whole – someone has to be paid to fix or replace the destruction. People see the incident and fear crime is increasing in their neighborhood. The culture is shifted. The positive side is, youth in this program realize the impact of their decisions. They then make plans to repair the harm caused to the community through community involvement, and are equipped to make better decisions in the future. A negative experience can be made into something positive and long lasting.

Now Jonah, he got on that boat to Tarshish...then came the storm, and everyone on that boat feared for their lives. Jonah 1:5 states that “all the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god”. We do this too– we call out to anything that we believe can save us from what we don’t know: our friends, our coping mechanisms, and sometimes even isolation. We try everything we can to save ourselves but it doesn’t always work. In this case, nothing happened until the sailors woke up Jonah and confronted him about his running away from his God. He needed to ask his God as well. They had tried to save themselves by throwing out cargo to lighten the load but nothing. They tried rowing back to shore until the waves rose higher and the attempt was pointless. They finally agreed to throw Jonah into the ocean– all the while begging the Lord to forgive them for killing an innocent man. Once Jonah was off the ship, the seas grew calm. At this point– the best part - the men “greatly feared the Lord, offered a sacrifice to the Lord, and made vows to Him.” Can you imagine?  Whoa. it worked! We all know the rest of Jonah’s story, but these men encountered God because of Jonah’s choice to disobey God. [Please note, this is not permission to choose to disobey God ;) ] 

I know there are times when we choose to not do what we know we ought to. There are times we get off the path, or we run away, or we make decisions that alter our future. The greatness of God demonstrates that our less desirable choices can bring good to those around us, to save lives for the kingdom, and to carry out God’s will. Because – as we sing in church – “who can stop the Lord Almighty”? {Lion and the Lamb}
No one can stop God. Not even our disobedience.

No matter where you’ve been or what road you’re on – God will always take you back to what He’s called you to AND still use the influence you have wherever you are on your journey. 


Written by, 

Sharlene O'Reilly

FaithSharlene O'Reilly