“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’” —Jonah 1:1-2
“Boy, are you listening to me?” As a child, I often heard these words from my mother’s lips. I can vividly remember her calling me while I was deeply engrossed in whatever activity had my attention at the time. Most of the time, I heard what she said, but, my attention was focused elsewhere. Other times, I was simply being disobedient.
The book of Jonah opens with the Lord giving clear instructions to Jonah. I want to give Jonah the benefit of the doubt and assume that he heard what the Lord said, but his attention was simply focused elsewhere. Jonah says, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord the God of Heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” (v.9) If that is the case, then why did he neglect to do what the Lord asked?
There have been times in my life that I have heard a clear word from the Lord and chosen to do something different. The Apostle Paul encourages us to be more like Christ, particularly when it comes to being obedient. Paul describes Jesus as being, “Obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.” (Philippians 2:8)
Is the Lord telling you something, but your attention is somewhere else? Has the Lord told you to do something, but you have refused to obey? What would it take to not only hear His voice, but follow His example and learn to become obedient?
“But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.” —Jonah 1:3
Jonah heard a word from the Lord and immediately took off running. I can identify with this feeling; church wasn’t an option in my parent’s house. My mother used to say, “Whenever the doors of the church are open, we will be there.” She did not disappoint.
I remember trying to find any excuse to not attend service. Even though I grew up in the church and was baptized at the age of eleven, I basically ran from the Lord for 20 years. All I wanted was hell insurance, I was not at all interested in being a good Christian.
All of that changed shortly after meeting Coach Tony Dungy. He was a man of integrity. I could tell there was something different about him. His life shined so bright that it caused me to recommit mine to the Lord.
The Apostle Paul said, “Let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel of Christ…Brothers join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” (Philippians 1:27; 3:17)
Those are intimidating words, but with the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be examples for those who are running from the Lord’s calling just as I once was.
My prayer is that we will live in such a way that others will take notice. I pray that our integrity will cause others to stop running from God and begin to run toward Him.
Don Davis is a former NFL linebacker, 2-time Super Bowl champion and currently the Sr. Director of Player Affairs for the NFL Players Association. He is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.