Columbine Flower. Image by Paul McGowan from Pixabay

Gardeners know that every plant species has its own personality.

Some are easygoing and low maintenance; they’ll happily bloom wherever you plant them.

Others, however, are stubborn and picky. They simply will not cooperate when you try to transplant them.

When they’re comfortably settled in the soil they call home, they’re highly resistant to being moved. They might as well have a sign hanging on their branches that says, “Do Not Disturb.”

I found this out the hard way with some columbines in my yard. Try as I might, I can’t get them to transplant successfully to another location. It’s like they’d rather die in protest than go along with my plans.

We may not want to admit this, but some of us are a lot like my columbines.

Sometimes God wants us to make a major change in our lives to carry out His purposes and plans. It may be to change where we live or what we do.

But we often stubbornly resist His instructions. We dig in our heels in protest at any unwanted disturbance to our lives, even if we know the new course of action is something God would like us to undertake. We simply refuse to cooperate or obey.

Sort of like Jonah in the Old Testament. His story is what I like to call “The Big Snit.”

God commissioned Jonah to go to Nineveh, the capital of the ancient Assyrian empire. God wanted His prophet to call the people there to repentance. However, Jonah balked at this assignment, as the Ninevites were considered the enemies of the Israelites. He didn’t want there to be the slightest chance of his foes receiving God’s mercy.

So what did Jonah do? He took off in the opposite direction.

Instead of heading east toward Nineveh, he boarded a ship headed for Tarshish, as far west as he could get. He was essentially fleeing from God in protest.

You all know the story of what happened next. After being thrown overboard, Jonah was swallowed by a whale. God let him cool his heels there for three days and nights while he decided if perhaps he wanted to obey after all.

“Jonah and the Whale” by Pieter Lastman, 1621. Wikimedia, Public Domain.

Jonah eventually did make it to Nineveh, no doubt sullenly. But even though he was now physically obeying God, his heart was still in mutiny. He delivered a thundering message of imminent destruction to the people of the city. When the Ninevites repented of their evil ways, God indeed showed them mercy, just as Jonah had feared.

Jonah was furious at this turn of events. He wanted to see his enemies punished and destroyed, not forgiven.

He was so mad that he told God, “Take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

Sounds a bit like my petulant columbines!

There’s a lot we can learn from the Book of Jonah about God’s mercy and forgiveness, but our main focus today is on obedience. Jonah had to learn that saying no to God is counterproductive. God will ensure that His will is done, no matter what hissy fits we throw. How much better it would have been if Jonah had obeyed God right from the start!

Let’s be willing to change location, change course or change our modes of doing things when God asks us to. Let’s go wherever He sends us and do whatever He asks of us, and do it promptly. Even if it’s not something we’re terribly keen on doing!

Let’s take the “Do Not Disturb” sign off of our comfortable lives, and be flexible and obedient enough to get on board when God tells us to do something differently.

God can do wonders with people who are willing to be transplanted!

© 2021 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

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