When I think about listening to God, one of the things I sometimes fear is that He might call me to do something. I realize that this sounds kind of opposite what a “good Christian” is supposed to think. Sometimes, though, my human nature kind of likes the noise in my life. It’s comfortable and pervasive, whether its the the kids playing in the next room, or the dishwasher running in the background. I can just sort of coast along with the current of life, letting it carry me wherever it flows.
But, if I stop to listen to God, maybe He will call me to give up something I really like. Maybe He will ask me to sacrifice money, or effort, or time, or to do something that is uncomfortable. Maybe I’ll be challenged to stand up for something, or talk to someone about a subject that might be uncomfortable for them (and for me).
After all, it’s happened before: Consider Jonah, who was called to preach a message of repentance to his enemies. Two “cruises” later (one on a boat; the other inside a fish), he finally accepted his calling and preached his message in Nineveh. He still wasn’t happy about it, though, when God spared the city of Nineveh, after they repented upon hearing what Jonah said (shouted, even) to them.
This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. So he complained to the LORD about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people.
Jonah 4:1-2 NLT
When I feel this way, I think that it boils down to a matter of trust. Do I trust God to have a better plan for me than I might have for myself? Do I really, really believe that He is good to His promises, like the one in Romans 8:28, or am I still a little unsure? Do I have confidence that He has a plan for me (like the example in Jeremiah 29:11)? Do I accept that He has been preparing, equipping, and shaping me for a specific purpose, tailored to just me?
For me, those are some challenging thoughts.
I thought about suggesting Proverbs 3:5 as something to read today. Verses 5-12 of that chapter have some wise advice (and, you’re welcome to take a look). However, maybe the reminder that I need is in Jonah 3. Even though Jonah didn’t want to preach repentance to the residents of Nineveh, God had a plan for that city, knowing that they were ready to hear Jonah’s message. God hadn’t sent Jonah on a random mission – He already knew that Jonah’s message would succeed.
I pray that I will have the courage to make quiet time to hear God’s calling and accept it. I pray that you will, too.
A version of this devotion originally appeared at fcccanton.com, as a Study Guide for the September 22, 2013 message, “Getting Rid of Ambient Noise”.