Most people have heard the story about Jonah and the whale. If you haven’t, I’ll sum it up for you really quick (and hang in there with me, because this story has some SERIOUS punch when it comes to weight loss and making healthy changes).
Jonah’s story on disobedience:
In the story, God tells Jonah to go to a place called Nineveh and preach but Jonah didn’t want to go so he disobeyed and headed to Tarshish in attempt to hide (as if! Ha!). While on a ship to Tarshish, the Lord sent a mighty storm that was so bad everyone on board was afraid for their lives. Jonah knew the storm was due to his lack of obedience so he had them throw him overboard in order to save everyone’s lives. God calmed the sea and prepared a great fish (whale) to swallow Jonah. He was in his belly for 3 days and 3 nights before he finally prayed. After he prayed, God had the fish spit him out on to dry land and God told him, again, to go to Nineveh – this time Jonah obeyed. (Jonah 1-2)
When our pastor, Jim Gallagher asked his teenage son, Nate Gallagher if he’d consider teaching for him while he was out of town, I’m sure his first thought would have been to run to Tarshish too! However, he knew in his heart what he had to do – no matter how terrifying it was going to be. As he shared this story at Calvary Chapel Vero Beach, it sparked so many thoughts for me.
How long are you willing to run?
When I thought of Jonah being in the whale for 3 days before he prayed for help, I couldn’t help but think about how long we allow ourselves to stay miserable to avoid the inevitable. Whether it’s our weight, our career or our mental or physical health – you can start doing what is right now OR you can put it off and stay miserable just a little longer. The decision is yours.
Jonah was on the run – and he was basically uncomfortable the entire time. Starting with stormy seas and ending with seaweed wrapped around his head while he sat in fish guts. I imagine being in the belly of a fish would not be fun. The SMELLS alone would kill me! It wouldn’t take me 30 seconds to pray and agree to do whatever God had asked me to do. Yet, Jonah, in a picture of complete rebellion, sticks it out for 3 whole days.
How often do we rebel against what we know we must do? How often do we just have the attitude “you can’t make me” or “that’s not fair” – especially when it comes to food. We pout, we rebel, we disobey, we eat things we know we shouldn’t, and we try to “hide” from everyone and everything that reminds us of what we are supposed to be doing.
How long are you willing to let your choices affect the ones you love?
Another thing this story teaches us is Jonah’s actions affected others – almost getting everyone on that ship killed. Our disobedience and rebellion often affects the people who surround us whether we mean to or not. Sometimes it affects our health, which interferes with our roll as a mom, dad, spouse, worker or friend. It can affect our attitude, making it miserable to be around us because we are so miserable ourself. Sometimes our disobedience, especially when it comes to eating, affects what others do too. You know what they say “misery loves company” – and before you know it you are eating ice cream with a friend that has no business eating ice cream either.
How long will it take for you to JUST DO IT ?
The best part of the story to me is in chapter 2 verse 1 where God comes to Jonah for the second time and says “Arise and go to Nineveh“. A part of me wonders if Jonah thought maybe God would change his mind or maybe he’d give him another option, but no – the message did not change and my message won’t change for fitness either. You can hide, run away, stay miserable and make everyone else miserable around you while waiting on another message, but the message isn’t changing. If you want to look and feel healthy, it requires obedience and work. Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh anymore than many of you want to go to the gym. But he obeyed, and it paid off – and I promise all your hard work in the gym will pay off too.
Like Jonah, you know what to do.
The question is “are you gong to keep running?”