My oldest sister was telling me at dinner tonight about a couple of unintentional encounters years ago where the conversations turned toward Jesus Christ:
*A high school partying buddy of hers – as they were driving around town in my sister’s Jeep, they unexpectedly began talking about Jesus.
*Her superior in the Air Force – My sister was stationed in Greenland, and upon arrival, quickly hit it off with her boss. Although she didn’t set out to share Christ with this guy, their conversations frequently revolved around Jesus Christ.
Years later, she found out that these conversations bore fruit. Her buddy from high school remembered her words in that Jeep ride, and now he takes his children to church each week to worship the Lord Jesus. Although her time in Greenland was cut short, those conversations had a deep impact on that man’s life.
For me, I was in campus ministry for several years. One year, there was a young man who was a regular attender of our meetings, and I had the opportunity to talk with this guy a few times. He even moved into the same apartment complex where I lived. I don’t recall any majorly significant conversations. But about five years after I left that part of the country, I heard from a mutual friend. She told me that this guy was talking about me to her, telling her, “Brandon had a major role in leading me to Jesus Christ.” I had no idea. I didn’t set out to share Christ with this guy. But the Lord used me, nonetheless. I am blown away.
Another Part of Jonah’s Story
Anyone who is familiar with the Bible has surely heard of the story of Jonah, how God called the prophet to give a message to the city of Nineveh, and how Jonah ran the opposite direction, hopped on a ship, was thrown overboard, swallowed by a big fish, spit out, then how he made his way to the original destination and preached to Nineveh, and how they repented and turned to God. But in rereading Jonah, I was reminded of the work God was doing even before Jonah set foot in Nineveh.
While he was on the ship, a monstrous storm arose. The mariners on the ship (not sure how many there were) were all calling out to their various gods, and they went to look for Jonah, who was asleep in the bottom of the ship. They awoke him, and then cast lots to see who should be thrown overboard to somehow appease someone’s god. The lot fell to Jonah, and he willingly allowed the mariners to throw him overboard.
Immediately, the sea ceased from its raging. While Jonah instantly appeared, I’m sure, on some giant fish’s radar, God, the creator of Heaven and Earth, and the Master of the Sea, instantly appeared on the spiritual radar screens of this ship full of mariners. Jonah 1:16 explains the impact the experience had on these men:
“Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.”
So, the three things that these mariners did because of Jonah are:
1.) Feared the LORD
2.) Offered a sacrifice to the LORD
3.) Made vows
In essence, they 1.) saw God for who He was, 2.) worshipped Him, and 3.) Committed to follow Him.
When Jonah woke up that morning, preparing to set sail to Tarshish, did he plan to lead a ship full of salty, rough sailors to the Lord? Did he plan on impacting for eternity the lives of these superstitious, suspicious, and angry men?
But throughout Scripture we get a clear picture of the sheer majesty of our Creator Savior God. We see that He is fully worthy to be worshipped and followed. Luke 19:40 even tells us that if mankind is quiet in praising God, “even the rocks will cry out!” God doesn’t NEED us to accomplish His purposes here on earth. But He does chose to USE us nonetheless, all to bring glory to His name. Was Jonah the right guy for the job? Did Jonah bring a jaw-dropping prophetic resume to God? No. BUT Jonah’s rebellion and sour attitude didn’t take God by surprise. God knew exactly how this whole episode would unfold. And He stayed the course. And, because of Jonah’s rebellion, the glory of God was made manifest in the lives of this ship full of heathen mariners. Praise be to God!
I wish my life and my ministry were pristine – free of sin, rebellion, hypocrisy, and my nasty attitudes. However, I’m a work in progress. There are so many days where I think it would be best that I just stay in bed and avoid humanity. But God is faithful. He is continually transforming me from the inside out. I’m not the same guy I was in my teens or 20s. Heck, I’m not the same guy I was last year. God is actively transforming my life, and I’m so thankful!
My prayer, then, is that regardless of what I do, say, or look like, that somehow God would pick up the pieces in my wake, that He would still be glorified, that He would accomplish those three things He did in the lives of the mariners – that people in my life would 1.) Fear the Lord, 2.) Worship Him, and 3.) Commit to follow Him.
Dearest Lord Jesus, may it be so in EACH OF OUR LIVES!