We choose to be at peace as we seek to maintain a healthy focus on God and ourselves.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Jesus is our perfect example of someone who kept a healthy focus on God, Self and Others. By the age of 12 Jesus tells His Parents (Luke 2:45) “How is it that you had to look for Me? Did you not see and know that it is necessary (as a duty) for Me to be in My Father’s house and occupied about My Father’s business?”
And yet, even though He knew His focus, it did not mean that it was easy and that no struggle ensued. He expressed frustration at times with His Disciples’ lack of growth in gaining wisdom. He experienced great suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to His arrest and crucifixion. Although He was one with the Father, He still experienced very real emotions and challenges to maintaining His focus and choices on God.
And yet, as Jesus turned to the Father with His grief, struggle and torment, He was able to accept the call on His life, to die & suffer on the Cross & then be resurrected. We know that through His struggle with death, we have received the hope for eternal life with God, back in the intended “Garden of Paradise” that was meant to be our eternal home.
Let’s take a look at someone with an unhealthy focus on God and see where that leads.
When Jonah is asked about himself by the sailors on the ship on which he is running away from God he says in 1:9: “ I am a Hebrew, and I (reverently) fear and worship the Lord, the God of heaven, Who made the sea and the dry land.” So here we find out that Jonah is a God-fearing man whom God has called to go to Ninevah to proclaim their wickedness before God. Yet he flees “from being in the presence of the Lord” to the most remote of the Phoenician trading places then known. This indicates that those who worship and fear the Lord, can choose to ignore and even run from God. Where does this lead? Jonah ends up telling the sailors to “Take me up and cast me into the sea, so shall the sea become calm for you, for I know that it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.”(v.12)
Again we see a very difficult call on the life of a “believer” and yet there is a terrible struggle of will to accept and go the path given. Whereas Jesus chose to accept and go, Jonah chooses to run and try to hide. And yet, while on the run he recognizes that God continues to pursue him. However, as he does recognize the trouble he has created for the sailors, he does not yet turn to God, but tells them to cast him into the sea. Yet God goes before Jonah, even as He does for us. God in His great design has (v 17) “prepared and appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” Only then does Jonah pray to the Lord “from the fish’s belly.” (2:1)
After being rescued and spit out upon the dry land, Jonah is again told to go to Ninevah to warn the people of God’s great displeasure and upcoming destruction. As the people respond with repentance, God forgives and they avoid destruction. This only makes Jonah angry (4:1) “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly and he was very angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, I pray You, O Lord, is not this just what I said when I was still in my country? That is why I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness, and (when sinners turn to You and meet Your conditions) You revoke the (sentence of) evil against them.”
God often asks His people, His Beloved, to do the hard things, those things that would not be freely chosen. And yet, when we keep our focus on God’s will for our lives, even when we are in confusing circumstances, God will provide.