Years ago, on entering the front doors of my workplace, a stranger approached me and she said, “Where are you preaching? Are you a pastor?” I answered, “No mam. I am a teacher. I do not preach.” She looked upset and challenged me that my denial of performing pastoral services was a hindrance to those the Lord called through me. So I quickly and peacefully reacted, “Mam. I understand what you mean. I do agree with you. The fact is I studied in Seminary.” At this she nodded her head then left.
Jesus said, “If anyone wants to follow Me, he must give up himself and his own desires. He must take up his cross everyday and follow Me,” (Luke 9:23, NLV). One Bible reference says, “Although Jesus offered salvation as a free gift (John 1:12), He also warned that following Him would entail suffering and hardship (Matthew 5:10).”
Let us take a quick look at these Scriptures: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name,” (John 1:12, NKJV). Also the Bible says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” (Matthew 5:10). So when we follow the will of God, we can expect suffering and hardship, but in the end rewards from the Lord for we are blessed.
Let’s go to the conduct of Jonah. We see that God gave him an assignment and he did not carry it out immediately. God said, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me,” (Jonah 1:1). The Bible said in verse 3, Jonah ran away from the Lord. But such refusals have consequences when we do not do God’s will. A great wind of the sea and a violent storm threatened the lives of the men on board the same ship Jonah used in his disobedience and attempt to run away (Jonah 1:3-4).
So his disobedience had several possible consequences (1) it could have cost the lives of all those innocent people on the ship he chose to escape his duties and the will of God; (2) the message and warning meant for the more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons in Nineveh, would not have been delivered and they would have been judged severely by God.
But Jonah eventually obeyed God and the people repented, thus preventing their destruction and causing their salvation. When we obey God; when we do His Will by first seeking it out and taking up our individual crosses, many whom God foreknew will interact with us and come to know Him as God, are saved. We each need to pray for discernment and know what we are called to do, so that our disobedience will not stand in the way of the salvation of others—who God has preordained to know him through what He destined us to do.
So let us consider who we are possibly hindering today, and seek God’s grace and wisdom in doing his will now. As for me, I now preach as well as teach. I have since been licensed and ordained as a minister, making my regular call to the Lord to those who will hear. God used that stranger, that lady, to set me right in his will. God is indeed gracious and we must always be thankful to him.