Back in the day, God had an assignment for Jonah. The Lord told Jonah to “Get up, go to Nineveh, the great city, and cry out against it, because their wickedness has come up before Me” (Jonah 1:2). What did Jonah do? He “got up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord” (John 1:3). This wasn’t the smartest move, because trying to run away from God never works out. Well, there are a whole lot of people acting like Jonah in churches these days.
Although they may consistently attend church, go to conferences and participate in various church-related programs, they’re avoiding what the Holy Spirit is leading them to do. In Luke 14:16-24, Jesus gave a parable of how someone invited a bunch of people to a feast, but the invitees were too busy to attend. How many churchgoers are too busy to recognize what God actually wants of them? There’s no one more qualified on this planet to accomplish what God created you to do. That sounds like some sort of cheap, motivational pep talk you’d hear at several churches on Sunday, but it’s true. God has put each of us on this earth at this exact time in our specific place of habitation for a reason (Acts 17:26-27).
D.L. Moody once heard an evangelist named Henry Varley say “The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.” Jesus gave His life for us so that we could live for Him, and He said “My sheep hear My voice” (John 10:27). While He didn’t say my sheep hear my book, He has given us the Bible to check what we hear. Put differently, we should “not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1).
Sometimes, this may mess with our expectations. For example, the Bible is clear that we should, in some way, contribute to making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). Yet, on one occasion, the Holy Spirit led Paul not to preach the Gospel in Asia (Acts 16:6). When Paul headed to preach in Bithynia, the Holy Spirit didn’t allow it (Acts 16:7). What’s the deal? God is in charge, not us. The Holy Spirit is like the wind (John 3:8); we can’t predict what He’ll do and trying to harness Him is foolish. He is our Guide and He leads us into all truth (John 16:13). His voice will never contradict His Word, but He might contradict our understanding of it. This is especially true when it comes to the issue of timing.
All in all, if we love Jesus, we will listen to Him and obey Him. Our actions will reflect that we love Him above everything else and that we love our neighbors as ourselves. Putting this into practice, we should listen to the Holy Spirit, test everything with the Bible, surrender our lives completely to Him and do what He leads us to do. He’ll be with us every step of the way, because “the eyes of the Lord move about on all the earth to strengthen the heart that is completely toward Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).