Recently, my pastor preached a sermon on the story of Jonah, which can be found in the book of Jonah in The Old Testament of The Holy Bible. I have heard the story countless times over the years. But this sermon was given with a contemporary twist. Doing that puts things into better perspective for most of us, as analogies have a way of bringing the point home. He told how Jonah ran fast in the opposite direction from what God had commanded him to do.
You see, Jonah was a prophet. He was supposed to be following God’s direction to go and warn the Ninevites to change their wicked ways. But instead he was so prejudiced toward the people of Ninevah that he absolutely refused to go and speak to them. At least initially. God’s plans always work out in the end, but we as human beings have a way of forgetting that. We usually try our way first. The fact is, God will typically call us to do something we do not want to do. At the least, something we had no life plans to do. If you doubt that, talk to anyone who has a platform or a ministry. They probably did not grow up saying I want to go head to head and toe to toe, with the biggest sportswear company in the modern world. They never said, I want to become a nun and spend the rest of my life in India, tending to the marginalized. When asked ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ They most likely never said ‘I want to fill a need in society.’ No, they said they want to be a fireman, a policeman, or a doctor.
Yes, Jonah was a prophet. He should have known God would call his number at some point right? I mean, no one gets to do whatever they want all the time, and call it being in God’s will? No, being in God’s will is doing what He says to do whether you like it or not. Jonah did not like what God asked him to do, so he ran, but he ran right back into God! I mean, He is God after all. Where exactly did Jonah think he would be able to hide? So after finding himself in a bad spot, he decided to go back and do God’s will…kind of. He talked to the people of Ninevah, telling them to change their wicked ways. But his heart wasn’t in it. Funny thing is, even though his heart wasn’t in it, they still repented! Poor Jonah! He found out that the best course of action is to do God’s will to begin with, and with the right heart.
Have you ever been in a Jonah kind of way? Are you in a Jonah kind of way now? Are you a leader or lay member of your local church, but there are just certain people you do not care for? Maybe there is a group of people you wouldn’t mind if they all just went to Hell. Whether we live to 90, or we die too young. Whether we are on our death beds with 30 seconds to live, our hearts must be right if we want to see Jesus. That’s the bottom line. No one is going to Heaven with hate in their heart. It just does not work that way. “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone, and to be holy. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14. Bottom line.
Recently my brother and I were discussing some fixes that were needed on my Jeep, which is a six-speed, manual shift. I would have it no other way. At any rate, for some reason we then started talking about the emergency brake, aka the e-brake. I told him about what my mechanic said the process would be to tighten the e-brake. He asked why it needed to be tightened. I told him that (there are no hills where I live) when I park on an incline, I tend to roll back a little. Listen really closely here, or should I say read really closely. He asked my if I relied solely on my e-brake. I said yes. I have since I learned, um, taught myself to drive a stick shift, in my 20’s. He was shocked!
My brother asked me over and over, if all I have ever relied on was my e-brake. He asked me the question in several different ways. It was the same question though. ‘You never put it in gear, in first or second gear?’ ‘No.’ There was silence, and then he said hold on. A few seconds later, there was a third person on the line. His mechanic. Yes, my brother called me out! But that was not his intention. I know, because I know his heart. He asked his mechanic how to secure a manual shift vehicle, whether it is on a flat surface or on a hill. The mechanic said he, along with 95% of the manual shift driving population, use their e-brake; but they also leave their vehicle in gear. Furthermore he said, and I knew this although I never did it, (remember, there are no hills where I live) you turn your wheels toward the curb so that if your vehicle does roll, it would roll into the curb.
OK, OK, I get it! So today, for the first time in my life, I parked my vehicle, and left it in a gear. I had to think about what I was doing. It really was a process! But wait, by now you are wondering what the point of this story is right? Here is the point: I believe I have been warned. I told my brother the same thing, and he readily agreed. But actually, I learned two lessons after that conversation with my brother. I had been seriously protected from tragedy over the years, having taken the risk to only use my e-brake. The other thing I learned was that I, we, could be doing the same thing for years; but one day find that it was wrong all along. We may have been putting ourselves and others at risk unknowingly. On the other hand, we could just be realizing that it is time to do some things differently than we have been.
After all it is not illegal to use just an e-brake. It is not bad, and if you live in a state or country where it there are no hills or mountains, it may never be an issue. But what if you need to learn the proper way to do something for a reason? What if God is getting you, me, ready for something new; and the only way I knew to approach this new thing was in the old process? A not necessarily bad way, but not necessarily the best way. Of course, the way we learn is being open to even listening and trying new ways in the first place. I am proud of myself for teaching myself to learn to drive a manual shift. I even later taught one of my sisters how to drive a manual shift.
It is OK to learn, teach, and continually expand your mind. But that expanding and stretching includes listening when God speaks to us directly, through others; and through situations. Have you been warned about anything?
What is God’s view on women?
What do you think? As a woman, I may have differing opinions than many men. But I am not sure why. It’s something I have been thinking about for quite some time.
Down through my years of Bible reading, I have seen nothing but good from God (Old Testament), and Jesus (New Testament). I think of the story of the woman at the well, the Samaritan Woman (John 4): Jesus met her where she was, in her element, her world. In all of the stories of Jesus’ interactions with women, He never made women feel uncomfortable. But He always made his point. His conversations with women always brought about life-changing revelation and change.
The woman at the well was OK in her sin, at least she pretended to be. Jesus took a detour to go talk to her. And he talked to her one on one, instead of embarrassing her in front of an audience.
Jesus healed Mary Magdalene of seven demons (Luke 8). This tells me what we all know, that Jesus cares about every aspect of our lives. He wants us to be healthy and whole mentally, physically, and emotionally. After Mary Magdalene was healed, she became a follower of Jesus. But what I find interesting is that on at least one occasion, several women who were also healed of demon possession, had traveled with Jesus at least on some occasions. In fact, there were other named women, women Jesus had healed of other physical issues.
Almost from the beginning of time, women have been mistreated. Traded like property in many cultures, like slaves in other cultures. But every where Jesus went, every interaction he had with women, he treated them as equals. And He loved women regardless of their status in life. The woman accused of prostitution by the Jewish leaders (John 8) was no different. Imagine, these leaders ‘made her stand in front of the group…’ (verse 4). But Jesus put the ball back in their court, asking if any of them were without sin.
So why do some men in every culture, mistreat women? Why are women’s wages just a percentage of their male peers. Why are women still traded like livestock in certain cultures? Why are women stolen and tricked into going into sex-trade slavery around the world?
In the Old Testament, God spoke to Eve as though she were equal to her husband Adam. In fact, when God created Eve, he did so by putting Adam to sleep and taking one of his ribs. He did not create Eve from the soles of Adam’s feet. It’s true, God did not create Eve from the top of Adam’s head to rule him. God created Eve as a helper to Adam, not as a slave, not as property.
Even in the case of Miriam, Moses’ sister. She spoke against the fact that Moses was the only person who ever heard God’s voice. She also did not like the fact that Moses was getting ready to marry a black woman. Again to my point: God created us all, from the darkest skin, to the lightest. We are all God’s creation. As punishment, God temporarily struck Miriam with leprosy because of her rebellion. I have always marveled at the fact that Miriam’s seven-day bout with leprosy meant that the entire camp had to wait until her punishment was removed. She delayed progress. But that’s another story for another day. I have also marveled at the fact that God’s punishment was temporary, and that his love for Miriam was not lessened. God loves His daughters AS MUCH as He loves His sons.
I continue to hope that one day women will be treated with equal respect, from the rib and not from the head or the feet. Given equal pay, and equal safety. I believe that is what God wants too.
Four years ago today, December 15th, 2011, I was inside the profile; but I was not alone. I was in the OR—operating room, undergoing an approximately four to six hour surgery. I was having that final surgery. A lot of prayers were being sent up for me, in fact my surgeon prayed with my parents and me. The surgery went well although there were complications during recovery. But I survived those too.
The last couple of years, my ‘anniversary’ came and went without barely a thought, but somehow this year, today; it is really on my mind. I have decided not to ignore the process and just allow myself to think about it. I am happy to be alive and well; emotionally, mentally, and spiritually now. And I was fine after the surgery, but then I began to become very sad. I started to realize I would really never carry a child now that I had that final surgery. Before the surgery, although I was having a lot of physical problems, I told myself I still had a chance. But the surgery was a finalization. And that finalization hit me in a delayed reaction kind of way.
I had to eventually visit a psychologist after constantly crying for days and not knowing how to stop it. He eventually told me that I was grieving a loss, and that was when the light bulb went on for me! I was not allowing myself to grieve because I didn’t know I was grieving. I did not know I could grieve something I never had. And on top of all of that, I had stopped praying.
Bottom line, I have been on a journey. And I know millions of women around the world have been on the same or similar journey.
Inside the profile with me, whether I felt it or not at the time, was Jesus. Yes, what I went through was almost unbearable, but I survived. God was with me, and He knows my end to my beginning and my beginning to my end. Check out my logo! You will see someone in the profile! He is always in the profile.
Every once in a while I conduct a mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional review…of myself. I am not searching for a picture of perfection, because that will never happen. But I am hoping to find growth.
I am hoping that I have grown since the last check-up. I’m not OK with zero growth. It’s nice to know I am not the same person I was five or ten years ago, but I still want to be further along than I was six months or one year ago.
What is the point of living a stagnant, never-growing life? Always with the same thoughts, limiting beliefs, knowing there is more; but preferring to remain in the status quo. Some people are willing to remain in the status quo so as not to lose friends or family members due to personal growth.
Those of you used to reading my blogs or listening to me on my Podcast, http://traffic.libsyn.com/21stcenturyhannah/MON _080315_DONT_BE_A_STATISTIC.mp3, or my YouTube Channel,
have heard me say on a regular basis, that life is short. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Yet we continue to sit in our comfort zone, sticking with what and whom we know. We remain in the familiar because we do not want to risk suffering any type of loss—physical, emotional, financial, etc. I mean, stepping out of your comfort may mean
moving, changing jobs, changing churches, even changing friends! Oh no!
So you fight that inner voice that’s telling you to step out, and you stay. But there is a constant discomfort on the inside. No one else can sense that prompting but you. No one else understands that prompting but you. Yes, a close friend or family member may sense something, and if you are fortunate, that person or persons may confront you, nudging you into the direction you should go. Unfortunately, you may also have friends that want you to stay right where you are. It could be for their comfort, jealousy, or fear of losing you.
Trust me, stepping out of your comfort zone is never easy. There WILL BE change and growth. But if you ignore that voice, that prompting in your belly, that dream or invention may never happen. And you will regret it forever, trust me.
Listen to that voice. Step out, grow. Because the fact is, that voice will never allow you to feel ‘comfortable’ again. Ever. You will always feel that nagging of the unknown on the inside. Always.
Have you ever attended an online event? We’re living
in a brand new, brave new world. We can now attend events from the comfort of
our living room couch! You may be thinking
that the experience may not be the same as being there in person. But imagine
gathering and conversing with women from around the world. Imagine doing so without having to purchase
an airline ticket and paying for a hotel stay. Imagine no bathroom waiting
lines, and being able to eat food you prepared so you know exactly how many
calories you are consuming! But more importantly, imagine attending, and then
leaving the experience feeling refreshed, restored, and revitalized?
Bible Study Expo 2015 will be this Thursday
August 20th, from 1 pm until 4 pm CST, 2 pm to 5 pm EST.
Marnie Swedberg, host
of The Bible Study Expo, started this virtual meeting in 2009. This expo features several Bible study
authors who have written at least three Bible Study books. They are interviewed, and are then available
for discussion with the attendees of the Expo.
Visit here http://www.biblestudyexpo.com/ on the day of The
Expo, and join the conversation! We may even run into each other!