God is Stalling for You

God is Stalling for You

Have you ever gotten the feeling that you’re not supposed to be doing what you’re doing? Like when you’ve got an exam you should be studying for but Breaking Bad seems so much more appealing? Or perhaps you’re like me and instead of cooking a healthy meal at home, McDonalds seems so much easier and appealing. Or maybe you’re someone that struggles with commitment and as a result you unintentionally end up looking like you don’t care about anything at all. I’m here to tell you that whatever you’re ailment, God’s got a whale for that.

The story of Jonah is one of the more popular stories in the Bible for a lot of good reasons. But, I think the main reason for its popularity is that it is our story. It’s your story and my story. It’s the story of God’s people since the beginning of time. God speaks. We say: “That must have been meant for the other guy, not me….” And we run away. God catches up with us, and we realize the error of our ways, repent and live happily ever after until next time. And every time I hear this pattern of events, I wonder, “Why can’t we just cut out the middle bit? Why do we tend to run away when God calls us?

Our readings tonight take us through Jonah’s experience of this exact phenomenon. Jonah is called by God, runs away from Him, gets swallowed by a whale, realizes the error of his ways and then finally finishes what God asked him to do in the first place. And because this story, is our story, its seems only fitting that I share a bit about my story. This is Zack and the whale.

My home was always a Christian home and because of that I’ve never been able to use the excuse “…but, that was before I knew Christ,” when describing my past. My childhood was a typical childhood. My favorite past times included going to the park, afternoon naps, and getting the blue sippy cup at snack time.

Once I hit my teenage years I began hearing a what I would now call a prophetic word being spoken into my life. I must have heard the same message over 100 times before I graduated. “You’re a leader, and God is going to use you if you let Him.” I would have people I had known for years and complete strangers telling me this often. And after hearing it the first 10 or 20 times I began to understand that either God was trying to get my attention or All these people have decided to play some kind of practical joke on me. And the part
that always rang true for me was the “…if you let Him” part.

When I entered highschool I was destined for success. My parents raised me in a model home and my mom encouraged me to do well in school, which wasn’t difficult because she worked at my school. “Please don’t tell my mom!” was a familiar thing heard by my teachers. But, highschool is a tough place and that’s where I lost myself. Like many teenagers, I began hanging out with the wrong people, and as a result I fell into a dysfunctional cycle of recreational drug and alcohol use, serial dating, and manipulative abuse of the people closest to me. All the while, I was attending church and youth group every week, playing in the worship band, and professing to be a Christian. I literally developed two lives that rarely mixed. God was calling for me, and I was running fast and hard in the opposite direction.

It wasn’t until I hit university I began to understand the difficult position I had put myself in. Being away from home in a place where no one knew me, gave me an opportunity to re-invent myself. This is probably a familiar thing for many of us. So in this re-inventing of myself I decided that would no longer be two Zack’s, just the one true Zack. It sounds kind of strange, but this was my turning point. This was my whale. God had finally caught up with me, or I had finally noticed He had never left. He gave me an opportunity to begin rebuilding. But, it wasn’t an immediate day and night switch, I still struggle today with remnants of my old self. And I think that’s why God often doesn’t just fix things straight up, memory is important to progress. What comes before influences what will come after. Jonah had his turning point while in the belly of the whale. But, I bet even after confronting the Ninevites and fulfilling the task God had charged him with, he would have continued to struggle with listening to God. Why? Because God’s call isn’t easy and it never stops. It takes work, and it will make you feel uncomfortable. But, when we say yes, it opens up a
massive amount of possibilities for God to work through us.

For those of you who caught Ins Choi’s Subway Stations of the Cross here a few weeks ago, there was a line in one of his monologues that hit me like a ton of bricks:

“God is calling for you. God is falling for you. It’s appalling how much God is stalling for you.”

Those three short sentence sum up my entire life. God waits for us, he never stops pursuing us. Like a shepherd searching for a lost sheep or a woman looking for a lost coin in the middle of the night, the kingdom of God has sought you, is seeking you and will never stop seeking you.

When has God stalled for you? And when did you answer His call? Or why is God stalling for you now? And when are you going to answer His call?

“God is calling for you. God is falling for you. It’s appalling how much God is stalling for you.”

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