Have you ever run from God? I have! More than once…more than five times! In different ways I have run from God. Whether it was ignoring what He wanted me to do with my life, ignoring Him because I was mad about how my life was going, continuing to do something I knew He didn’t want me to do or many other things. So, I, like Jonah ran from God. And I, like Jonah, got a timeout. A ‘sit yourself down right here and think about what you’re doing, why you’re doing what you’re doing and NOT what I told you to do’ from God. First, I have to state the obvious: it is really stupid to try to run from God! He’s everywhere and you can’t get away from Him. I did not literally try to escape physically and get away from God, but I did try to act like what God told me to do was a suggestion – on many occasions. Maybe I’ll make this into a series or something because I have a lot of examples, but I’ll just give one example right now.
The first example I have is my career. I had a list of no less than 6, maybe 7 professions that I really wanted to pursue when I graduated from high school. I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur and did not (still don’t) like to spend a lot of time in school and more time outside of school studying. Even though I had a lot of professions I was interested in, I didn’t really know what to major in during my first semester of college. I ended up really hating the school I went to and moved back home. Then, seemingly out of nowhere I had this really strong desire to be a doctor. Which really scared me! I avoided math and science at all costs during high school! And what is pre-med and medical school? Math and science – a lot of it!
Even so, the desire to be a doctor was stronger than anything else I was interested in doing previously even though I wanted to do those things for much longer. So, I enrolled as pre-med, started taking classes…and I psyched myself out! The thought of 8 years of school plus residency plus not having a life outside of school plus the money plus…IT’S HARD!! In addition to any other excuse I could think of at the time. The fact of the matter is: I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to put in the work it took to be a doctor. I thought “when will I get married and have kids?”, “how will I afford it?” and on and on. So, I talked myself out of it. I told myself that there were a lot of other things I wanted to do – including be an entrepreneur and that didn’t require a degree, not that one wouldn’t help, but I didn’t have to have one.
So, I went to work full-time, but not as an entrepreneur. I couldn’t afford to start a business without income, so I worked and tried to start a business which was really hard. Especially because the business I tried to start required me to be available during the day, which I wasn’t because I was working for someone else! Then at 24 I had to leave work on long term disability because I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. That sidelined me for years. I lost my job, I lost one of my cars because it took 8 months for my insurance company to begin paying me for my disability claim, and I really had to depend on my parents during that time. When my disability ended a few years later it was really hard for me to find a job. I tried to find jobs in the field I was in before, but the country was in the middle of a recession and I had a big gap in my work history. The only job I could get was delivering newspapers, which was fine. But by that time I was so depleted financially that I was about to lose my other car. So I ended up doing something really stupid (ie I didn’t bother to pray about it) to avoid losing my second car. I let someone I trusted use my car because they agreed to pay the insurance and car payments for a couple of months until I caught up with the money I made from delivering newspapers. They had the car for 2 or 3 months and after 3 relatively minor incidents (but if I had been paying attention they would have signaled that I couldn’t trust them) involving their neglect of my car, their significant other totaled my car…the day before they were supposed to give it back to me. Needless to say this was devastating on many levels. My mother was graciously allowing me to use her car to deliver newspapers while the other people had my car, my mom ended up moving and needed to take her car. So, I was landlocked in the suburbs with no bus access, no car and no job.
So, as I said, I didn’t bother to pray about the car, the job search, or anything. And God told me to take a job before my car was totaled- one of the 2 times I heard God speak to me, like out loud (I’ll talk about that in another post). But do you think I listened? Hahaha – no! So a couple of months later my car was totaled. And let me tell you, that one thing has affected my life every single day since. So, stuck at home with no transportation, what pops into my head? School! I could do it online and get a (small) refund back for some expenses. You’d think I’d pick pre-med, right? After all of this time and fighting other things God had told me to do, you’d think I’d pick the one major He told me to do. Well, you would be wrong. Again, I told myself that I didn’t want to do that much work. So, I messed around for another couple of years and wasted more money and time, started another business – I know, I’m really stubborn. And surprise, surprise – none of it felt right. None of it clicked.
So I tried something new: prayer. I prayed about what I should do. Since nothing I was trying worked and it didn’t feel right. And guess what surfaced: I wanted to be a doctor. This time I decided to just go for it. I still had all the voices in my head telling me that I wasn’t smart enough, that I was too old, that I couldn’t do it, that people would think I wasn’t smart enough, etc. Have I hit some snags since then? Yes. Were most of them my fault and my insistence on STILL doing some things my way? Yes. Am I still working towards that goal? Yes!
So what have I learned? I have learned that if God wants you to do something, it is going to happen! God does not suggest things – He outright tells you what to do. If you are outside of the will He has for your life, it’s simply not going to work. And I fought that for so long. I thought He was going to make me do something I didn’t want to do. And of course that happens! But the truth is that life is going to be a lot harder if you do it without Him. His plan for you will make you a better person if you allow Him to be in control. His plan will never lead you in the wrong direction. You always have His grace and His protection. If you don’t fight it, you will end up loving what He has in store for you. When I wasn’t doing what God told me to do, I was reluctant to ask for His help because I knew I was wrong. Why would or should He help me do something He doesn’t want me to do?! Most of all, I have learned that giving my life and will over to God is the best thing that I could ever do. Even if things don’t go the way I want them to go, they’re definitely a lot better than anything I could ever do on my own. I’ve learned to ask what He wants me to do and wait for HIs answer. I’m also learning patience in this process. If He doesn’t want it for me, I don’t want it for me either.
Do you have any Jonah experiences? Do my story sound like anything you’ve ever done? Let me know!