Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
One of our biggest problems is procrastination. Do you know what that is? It’s putting things off to another time or another day—or never getting around to it. All of us have been to this place—I know I have.
We know what we should have done, but we didn’t do it. We should have:
- gotten the oil changed and the car maintained.
- stopped for petrol before the freeway.
- have studied for that exam.
- checked on the kids.
- saved up some money for the end of the year tax bill.
I remember hearing a fable of three little devils trying to impress Satan. The first tells him that he’ll tempt mankind to commit all sorts of sexual sins; the second that he’ll tempt mankind into all sorts of different abuse. But the third one is the shrewdest: I’ll tell them to do all the good works they can—but I’ll tell them to do them tomorrow.
When we try to run away from our call
There’s a fascinating story in the Old Testament of a guy named Jonah—and there’s a book called Jonah in it. This book tells the story of a Hebrew prophet named Jonah who is sent by God to prophesy the destruction of the city of Nineveh but tries to escape the divine mission. God wanted this prophet to be his spokesperson and warn the people in Nineveh that they would be destroyed. But Jonah wasn’t very cooperative with God. He was too frightened and ran the other way.
The story is a thrilling account of how one man ran and yet God never gave up on him. Jonah was on board a ship in a fierce storm, and he was thrown overboard and a large fish swallowed him and he lived inside the fish (may have been a whale) for three days and three nights. And inside this fish, Jonah prayed. His despair became the stage for God’s miraculous power. Look at the facts of the situation—he had:
- denied the call of God.
- run from God.
- been discovered by God.
- been thrown overboard.
- been swallowed by a fish, and survived.
His despair became the stage for God’s miraculous power!
When everything seems lost
From all appearances, it looks pretty hopeless. Choking on seaweed, terrorised by a great fish, in the depths of the sea—you would think that praying time was over for Jonah. Gone too far? Done too much? Said No too often? Made God too angry? Jonah decided that it was never too late to pray. But this tells me it’s never too late to pray, even when the worst thing has happened to us. For example when:
- bankruptcy appears certain, or already been declared
- drug addiction and alcoholism has already run its course
- the judge’s sentence has already been pronounced
- the divorce seems inevitable
- the disease has been declared terminal
- the job is lost
- the grades have already been handed out.
Yet, it was at this late moment that Jonah began to pray:
“When I was in trouble, Lord, I prayed to you, and you listened to me. You threw me down to the bottom of the sea. I was almost drowned by the swirling waters that surrounded me, seaweed had wrapped around my head. But you, Lord God, rescued me from that pit. When my life was slipping away, I remembered you. I will keep my promise, because you are the one with power to save. The Lord commanded the fish to vomit up Jonah on the shore—and it did” (Jonah 2:1-10, selected verses).
Surround your circumstances with hope
The cure for hopelessness does not lie in the circumstances that surround you, but in you surrounding the circumstances with hope. The cure for hopelessness does not come from the problem but from the promise. With faith in God, anything is possible.
Jonah ran from the call of God straight into a crisis. First, how can anyone run from the Omnipresent God? If the call of God is on your life, you will never be happy doing anything else. We learn the hard way that we can’t run away from the everlasting God.
But it’s never too late. Think for a moment of the circumstances for Abraham and Sarah to have children. Rom 4:18-21 says:
“God promised Abraham a lot of descendants. It seemed hopeless. But he still had faith in God. He was nearly 100 years old. He knew he was almost dead and that wife Sarah couldn’t have children. But Abraham never doubted or questioned God’s promise. Abraham was certain that God could do what He had promised”.
The circumstances said it was too late for Lazarus to be restored. We can read this amazing restoration in John 11:37-44.
When we procrastinate with spiritual things, we often give into the lie that It’s too late when we do eventually want to do right. No matter how great the distance between God and you seems, there is always a way to come back—even if we learn the hard way just as Jonah did.