Jonah’s Shipmates

 One morning I was doing my Bible Study out of the workbook I have been working on. That morning’s topic happened to be disobedience. It talked about how we need to be obedient. Well as usual some thoughts came into my head. They went something like this.
I consider myself a Christian. I consider God as my Savior, but I also call Him my Heavenly Father. We know if we have accepted Christ we are considered sons and daughters of the Living God.  Galatians 3:26 reminds us, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Pretty clear if we have faith in Christ then we all are sons and daughters of God. So in a very real sense He is my Father. 
As I was growing up I had good dad. He did discipline us. I can remember when Mom told us to do something we knew we had better do it. I can honestly say most of the time my brothers, sister and I did what we were told to do. We knew if we didn’tpunishment would come. I can remember being punished for not obeying. 
Punishment is not something any of us desires to go through. I didn’t like it then and when I am being punished for something I did or didn’t do now I still don’t like it. So, if I know I don’t like punishment why then am I so hesitant to follow God’s commands? Do I really believe God is so loving that He won’t punish me? What would have happened to me if I hadn’t been punished as a child for doing wrong? I am afraid I wouldn’t have grown up as a responsible adult. I would think I could get by doing anything I want.
Jonah was told to go to Nineveh. He refused. His punishment was to be thrown into the sea and then remained in the belly of a fish for three days. Not a punishment I desire to go through. Not only that, but his unwillingness to obey God put others in danger. While Jonah was on the ship the ship encountered a storm (read the story of Jonah in the book of Jonah). The men began throwing things off of their ship until they discovered Jonah was the problem. I am thinking the things they threw off were probably things they needed, but discarded just to try and calm the sea. So how many times have my disobedience put others in danger or caused others problems?
Adam and Eve had rules to follow. They knew exactly what God had told them they could and couldn’t do. They were living in paradise. They had everything they needed. Yet, they couldn’t follow the rules and disobeyed God and was shown out of their paradise. We all know their lives were not like they were while living in the Garden of Eden. 
There are many others in the Bible we can learn from that knew the commands of the Bible and failed to keep them; Moses, David, and even Paul. They knew what God had commanded them to do and yet they failed to keep His commandments. So, if we have all of these examples why do we not obey God?
We can even look back on our own childhood and remember what happened when we didn’t follow the rules. There were always consequences for not following the rules. Just recently God called me to follow Him and like Jonah I didn’t want to follow. The task would be out of my comfort zone, it would be too hard, I wasn’t qualified, there were many reasons I was giving God. I believe He allowed me to be down on my back for a week just so I could see disobeying Him was not an option. When I agreed to say yes things got better. Now, I know some of you will say that was just the nature of the course of the illness I had, but I believe it was part of my punishment for disobeying Christ. When we don’t follow Christ there will be consequences. We can choose to follow Him or we can choose to run like Jonah. But if you run who will be hurt by your running away? What problems will you bring on others if you say no?
I realize we live in a sinful world and it is human nature to disobey. I also realize it is out of selfishness that we often disobey. We want to do the things we want to do. When I was a kid and I disobeyed most of the time it was because I was doing something I was enjoying doing and I didn’t want to stop and go do something I was told to do. What kid wants to go in and clean their room or pick up their toys when you can play in the coal bin (I know I am showing my age) or riding around in the wagon as dad was picking soy beans? Playing Cowboys and Indians was a lot more fun than picking up toys we had left out. That was a selfish act because if I didn’t do it Mom had to do it or get someone else to do it. If someone else got stuck doing it then I was causing them to have problems. 
I do understand why we disobey, but with our past experiences with punishment and with all the examples we should be willing to obey God when He tells us to or when He calls us to do something. I know I am one to say OK I have learned my lesson I will follow you always, but then living in this world or wanting to be selfish drifts in and I fall away. So I will pray this prayer daily and hope I will be better about following him:
                                Teach me, LORD, the way of your decrees,
                                that I may follow it to the end. 
                                Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law
                                and obey it with all my heart.
                                Direct me in the path of your commands,
                                for there I find delight. Psalm 119:33-35
What about you? Is God calling you to do something? Are you following the Lord’s decrees? If not think about Jonah and his fellow shipmates; is there someone around you who is being affected by your disobedience? 
Dear Lord, Once again I will say I will follow you in all your ways, but I know once again I will fail and the consequences will come with my disobedience. Living in a sinful world and having selfishness set in doesn’t help, but if I pray and trust in you I can do better each time. Teach me Lord the way of your decrees. You have said if I love you I will obey your commands and if I don’t love you I will not follow your commands. I love you and it is my desire to follow your commands. Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to live with me daily so together we can try to accomplish this task. Remind me when I begin to disobey like Jonah’s shipmates others may suffer. Give me understanding and help me to trust and obey at all times. Amen

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