There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.
You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail. (NLT)
The Jonah Syndrome
Back in 1998 I heard God speak very clearly to me about a gift He wanted me to make. A young man in ministry needed to replace his car, but this was something he could not afford. I argued with God for a while because I felt that the sum in question was too large. I was prepared to make a gift, but on my terms, not God’s.
It was at this time that my eldest son (Nick) was fundraising to join the Baptist Missionary Society for a gap year between school and university. He needed to raise £2,400. One retired lady at our church gave him a check for £100 one Sunday. When I found out about her generosity I went to thank her. Tears welled in her eyes as she told me that God had instructed her to make this gift, but that she had argued with God that she could not afford to give Nick £100. My heart sank right down into my shoes. I went home and wrote a check for the amount God had placed on my heart and I sent it to the young man God had identified. He duly wrote back and thanked me for my generosity. But I didn’t feel generous. I didn’t feel anything but that horrible feeling you get when you have done something wrong and been caught out.
A Question of Attitude
Obedience brings blessing, but usually only if the timing is right. When Jonah disobeyed God he had to face the consequences. Time spent in the belly of the fish resulted in a change of mind, but not attitude. He duly obeyed God and delivered God’s message to Nineveh. Amazingly the King and people of Nineveh listened to Jonah. They decided to change their ways, and God responded with forgiveness. Did this make the messenger happy? Did Jonah feel blessed? Not at all. In fact Jonah chose to sulk. To be blessed, we need to be obedient. To receive a blessing we need to listen to God, and do as He asks, when He asks. Not several weeks later because we feel bad about our failure to act. His plans, not ours. His timing, not ours.
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