by Dr. Charles Stanley
No Substitutions Allowed
The story of Jonah’s resistance to the Lord’s calling is legendary. But isn’t it unfortunate that God had to go to such extreme measures to get His prophet to obey?
Jonah did what we all sometimes try to do — namely, substitute our plan for God’s. There are times when we know what the Lord has in mind, but resist anyway. Then whenever we pray, it seems He brings up the issue we have been trying to avoid. The pressure to act never lets up until we decide either to do what God asks or to quit praying. So we proceed, but not according to the plan laid before us. Instead, we choose a course that fit our desires, and we try to drown out God’s voice in a flurry of activity. Maybe we even get involved in some ministry, hoping that He will be appeased.
All of that busyness and service from wrong motivation will bring only misery. Anything short of complete obedience is disobedience; if getting us to learn this principle requires that we be swallowed up by whale-sized trouble, God will allow it in our life. The Lord is not interested in our convenience or comfort; He is focused on conforming His children to Christlikeness and using them to spread the Gospel throughout the world. Substituting our shortsighted plan for His is selfish.
When we resist God’s perfect plan for our life because of what it might cost us in wealth, time, or social status, we fall deeper into the belly of strife and distress. But the moment we repent and commit to obey, we are purged from the self-imposed prison of disobedience. Following the Lord’s plan for our life is the way to peace and joy.
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