Jonah 1: 3 – Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction in order to get away from the Lord…He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping that by going away…he could escape the Lord.
So if you haven’t read any of my posts, let me get you up to speed. This is a different look at the Jonah story. This is from the perspective of someone traveling on board Jonah’s ill-fated ship. I am the traveler and my husband is Jonah. My husband has a firm foundation in the Word. He grew up in church and had godly examples in his life. He is clearly called to the preaching ministry but he lost his desire to do God’s will. My last post, left off at him seeking a clear confirmation to accept his call to ministry. Well, he did early in our relationship. Although, I feared the scrutiny of the preacher’s wife’s role, I knew that God’s plan is bigger than my insecurity. So, I sucked it up and partnered with him in the labor of leadership.
He preached at, taught at and ultimately pastored for three years at the church that his dad built. With the regular ridiculousness of church ups and downs, he nurtured the Kingdom by reaching lots of young people. Many of his family and their friends began to grow closer to the Lord. They sought ways to work in the church and ways to bring more people to it. Our ministry was growing. Then God, tugged him to move to the opposite side of the nation. According to him, God was calling him to leave what was routine, to preach in a place that wasn’t his home and to reach people with the Word that needed to “be real with God”. So obediently, we moved and were on fire for the Lord. Like Jonah, before the ship, my husband was still moving steadfastly in his calling. He became interim Pastor at a small church in the country.When I say I country, I mean it. A church far out, away from streetlights and street signs. A place where cow crossing signs were common and long stretches of farmland were the norm. A place where black snakes crossed the road with no fear. At first, the country made me feel safe. Maybe it was the perceived innocence of the country. I thought the people would be untouched by the ugliness of the world. I expected them to be kinder and more devout. What a false reality I lived in…for about two Sundays. It didn’t take long for me to notice, the people were well versed in the niceties of Christian vernacular (“God Bless Your Heart!”, “Blessed and Highly Favored”) but they were deceitful and opposing to developing the hearts of people who hadn’t grown up in their church. To those who read this and think this is unbelievable, I am sincerely happy you’ve never heard of it. But it did and does happen. The church was full of strife. They were not honest people but were backstabbers and lovers of gossip and untruths.
In every sermon, he gave his whole self. All he had, he used it for God’s glory. He loved on the people. Though we had experienced a fair share of church craziness back at home, my husband’s resilience to church mess dwindled quickly here. He discerned the insincerity of the people. He was hurt by the meanness. Yes, preachers do have feelings! Then the enemy was able to pierce his heart with uncertainty about his call to ministry. He began doubting not just his call to this country church but his call to pastor, preach or teach. The enemy manipulated him with insecurities about ministry. This environment took its toll. Though I begged God to strengthen him, my husband’s zeal for the call was fading to a pitiful flicker. This candle was getting ready to go out. When he said that we were leaving that church, I was relieved! I thought that this was finally the end of a bad chapter in our lives, not knowing we were getting ready to board Jonah’s ship. I thought we were leaving that church not ministry. I grabbed his hand and walked with him with children in tow.
Pastor Steven Furtick’s book, Crash the Chatterbox: Hearing God’s Voice Above All Others, so aptly describes that insecurity is fed by listening to the “chatterbox” – lies about who we are. The chatterbox was a voice that I couldn’t drown out with encouragement or recitation of the Word. From Furtick’s book, I learned “…the voice you believe will determine the future you experience.” The chatterbox motivated my husband to buy a one way ticket for him and his family away from ministry. And so the voyage began…