When my son Garrett was in middle school, there were only 7 boys on the basketball team. If sickness or poor grades took out a couple of players, the remaining guys would play the entire game leaving no one to warm the bench. All the boys wanted to play but no one wanted to run up and down the court for the entire game. By the middle of the second half, warming the bench was starting to sound good to those tired boys.
It’s funny how we expect teams to always have replacements sitting on the bench. But when you are playing on God’s team, there’s no bench warmers. God has provided a dynamic life for each of us, He’s not designed you to be a spectator. He wants you living each day lifting up prayers, praises and other people. I have to admit it sounds exhausting living each day in the midst of God’s adventure. Sometimes it might be nice to take a break.
Jonah was a guy who decided to take a break from the adventure God had planned for him. In Jonah 1:3 it says “Jonah ran from the Lord.” What was this guy thinking? Where did he think he could go to get away from the Lord? I think Jonah just wanted to sit on the bench a while and watch others on God’s team charge down the court. As a prophet, Jonah had charged off for the Lord lots of times but now God wanted him to go to Nineveh and preach to a bunch of sinners. Well, you probably know the story. Jonah fled on a boat, God sent a mean storm then he sent a huge fish and volla’, Jonah is off the bench and back in the game. That’s right, it took being swallowed by a huge fish to get Jonah back on God’s grand adventure for His life.
Here’s my question- why did God bother? Why did God go through all of that to bring Jonah back? After all, God didn’t need Jonah to save the people of Nineveh. He could have sent someone else whose heart was ready to jump in the game. But He didn’t. God stuck with Jonah. God did not let Jonah run away. Why? Because God’s plan was not just to draw the people of Nineveh closer to Him, it was to draw Jonah closer to Him too.
Some of you may be thinking God has assigned you to sit on the bench and watch other people’s adventures. Maybe you have thoughts like “I’ll get to God’s work when I’m not so busy, or when the kids are older or when I’m feeling better. For now, I’ll just watch the game.” Like Jonah, what you’re forgetting is that you are the game. God’s goal for the game is not to complete a task but to complete you. You know that ache that urges you to put more meaning in your life? That’s God dragging you off the bench and right smack in the middle of the game. Don’t live life as a spectator…God intends you to live right in the middle of the most exciting game you’ll ever see : your life. Go ahead. Grab the ball and GO!