When God created us, He didn’t build robots. Instead, He gave us a free will to make decisions and act on them…whether wise or foolish. But it’s also our free will that gets us into trouble most times. We bristle at being told what to do, and obeying the rules, in our mind, is optional. Yes, our free will can become problematic! So in this passage, the Lord is quite concise and deliberate in His laying out of our options. We are given the choice…the decision is ours. Will we obey and receive a blessing, or will we rebel and experience a curse?
The first time Jonah heard God say, “Go!”…He ran in the opposite direction. So surprisingly, when Jonah head God say, “Go!” this time, he obeyed. So what changed? Not God. His command was simple, straight forward, and didn’t waver in what He wanted Jonah to do. Nor was it the people of Nineveh who God wanted Jonah to warn. They remained a perishing and lost people of the Assyrian capital. No, the only thing that had changed was Jonah’s heart. In the belly of that great fish, Jonah had received a second chance…and with it then came an attitude adjustment on Jonah’s part. For our God is the God of second chances…from Jonah, to the Ninevites, to us… the Lord gives all of us second chances to change.
I’ve heard them called shoulder taps, or God moments. It’s when the Holy Spirit impresses on your spirit to speak or do something for someone…sometimes a complete stranger. It’s when that still small voice tells you to perform a kind act, or speak words of encouragement into a person’s life. It may not be profound…it may only take a minute of your time…but know that this interaction is divinely arranged…and requires your obedience without hesitation. These shoulder taps are a way that God manifests His love to a lonely and lost world…and what He asks of us is to just hear and obey. So, step out in faith when the Holy Spirit urges you…for you never know the impact you may have on someone’s life.
Following this divine prompting, Phillip met up with the Ethiopian eunuch traveling home on this desert road and gave him the Good News of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. God orchestrates divine appointments all the time for us…all we need to do is be obedient. But so many times we hesitate out of fear and doubt…or because our pride says, “I’m far too important to go down some barren desert road for the Lord…I want to go places where I can be seen and honored!” God said, “Go!” and Phillip didn’t question but rather obeyed…and a life was changed for eternity.
If you have ever been part of a marriage conference or counseling…they teach you the art of active listening. Each has the others undivided attention as they converse back and forth…repeating back to the person what they heard and asking, “Is this what you meant?” There is much more listening done than speaking, and more unselfish attention given than self-centeredness. Listening to the Lord is a lot like that. It is not blabbering on incessantly about our own feelings and emotions…it’s listening with all our being…taking the time to be quiet…hearing and then heeding His voice.
When we’re going through a time of spiritual confusion…there are only two ways we can go. We can argue or chose to obey. We can spend our time trying to reason and debate our way out of the disconcertment in our life…or we can yield and submit ourselves to the authority and supremacy of God. You can’t think your way out of spiritual confusion…the only thing you can do is to obey what God places in front of you…step by step, day by day. For Christ demands unquestioning obedience from us, even when the way is shadowed.
The next House Rule deals with listening and then obeying. The Scripture comes from Revelation 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with Me.” If you examine the famous painting depicting this verse, you’ll see that there’s no doorknob on the outside. Jesus stands knocking, but can’t open the door Himself…we have to. All throughout our Spiritual journey with the Lord, He’ll knock at certain doors…doors of opportunity…doors of ministry…doors that are so foreign, scary, and frankly, so far-fetched, that we can’t put our heads around what He’s calling us to do. It’s at that point that we must make the decision to obey…to open that door and allow Him and His plan for us to come in.