27 Nov When Jonah is in Your Boat..
Ever felt like Jonah?
As in really, truly felt the man?
Understood how distressed he must have been, right there in the middle of that raging storm?
See, like Jonah, I had a life.
A well-oiled, very smoothly running life.
I was a loving wife, doting mother and a budding entrepreneur.
And I loved it.
I was particularly proud of the “budding entrepreneur” bit, and was working hard in a sub-sector of I.T. that was relatively unknown at the time. Business Process Outsourcing, it was called.
And I loved every single minute of it. Reveled in it, enjoyed it!
Even the tough times that came with the territory.
Life was good!
Then one night, in the month of October 2008, I went down on my knees and prayed a heartfelt sinner’s prayer.
And I gave my life to Christ.
I promised to serve Him, walk with Him, and honor Him for the rest of my life, that night alone in my children’s playroom.
It was a Wednesday, I recall. Mid-week.
So when day-break came, off I went to my office, happy as a lark, ready to take on this exciting new life as a born-again child of the Lord.
And in the following weeks, I continued in my chosen path, working diligently to honor the Lord, as I pursued my company’s goals.
Each morning, right before the day’s tasks, I would kneel faithfully at my desk and pray.
I would share the Gospel diligently with my colleagues, whenever my schedule allowed.
I quickly instituted a weekly prayer meeting, everyone most welcome to attend.
Nay, everyone had no choice but to attend.
I worked hard at being completely honest in my business dealings.
And of course I tithed faithfully of my increase, every month, without fail.
God was surely going to bless the work of my hands.
Life was going to be great!
I could just feel it.
But, it seems, I had not yet understood the magnitude of the commitment I had just made.
And I was chasing my company’s goals, with no regard at all for the Lord’s chosen path for my life.
And so one fine morning, just three months after my beautiful Damascus moment – wham! – our biggest client dropped a bombshell.
“It’s not you, it’s us..”
They could no longer afford to work with us, for one vague reason or other.
A few weeks later, our second-largest client – wham!
“It’s not you..”
They too, had found another supplier, a cheaper one.
On another continent, no less.
Shortly, a third client slipped quietly away, with nary a word.
Just stopped paying their bills.
The tide had begun to turn.
Jonah was in the boat.
And I, it appeared, was the Jonah.
So in the following weeks we continued to lose our clients, one after the other.
We lost more than half of our monthly revenue, and began cruising dangerously at half-mast.
And within a few weeks, we were staring down the barrel of complete collapse.
Eventually one of my co-directors, bless her, called me quietly to her side.
For as long as you are in this boat, she said, it’s going nowhere.
I sense, she shared, that the Lord is calling you to Ministry.
No way! I thought. I’m an Entrepreneur!
I could not see it. I refused to see it. Even though deep down inside, I knew it to be true.
And so the boat continued to rock. Each time more violently.
Things went from really bad to even worse.
We lost clients in droves, and the goodwill of those around us even faster.
See, no clients equals no money.
No money to pay workers. No money to pay suppliers. No money to pay the landlords, who happened to be some very sweet Nuns.
I hated letting everyone down like this.
But I held on.
I couldn’t believe that the Lord would do this!
Why couldn’t He just go along with my five-year plan?
I thought we had a deal!
I was to pray diligently, stay honest in my dealings, tithe faithfully and share the Gospel whenever it was convenient.
He, in turn, would bless me thoroughly and abundantly, to the point where my peers would sit up and wonder.
Wasn’t that how it worked?
But the shaking continued.
It seemed each week we lost something.
A client here, a dejected employee there, a supplier in between. Even our trusted investors pulled out.
And of course we were soon deep in debt.
A very humbling position to be in, I can assure you.
So like Jonah, I finally began to consider leaving the boat. Perhaps if I left, things would improve, I (correctly) reasoned.
But first, I determined to seek the Lord for clear instructions. I wanted Him to tell me loud and clear that I should leave my beloved boat.
I had built it from scratch, you see, and I wasn’t about to leave it that easily.
So one day in July 2009, I took time off from the office, determined to sit before the Lord and seek His counsel for the following two days.
Lord, I said, if you really want me to leave this company, I will.
Just let it be clear to me.
Speak to me, Lord! I pleaded
And on the very first day, He did. Loud and clear;
Take a piece of paper, He said.
On it, draw a Business Card.
On the top-right corner of the card, write your name.
And beneath your name, write the word “Labourer”.
Beneath the word “Labourer”, write these words:
“The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”
This will be your new Business Card, He said.
This was definitely not what I wanted to hear!
I was an Entrepreneur! And a mildly successful one at that!
But there it was, dear reader.
I was to be a Labourer.
And my station, starting now, was the Lord’s Vineyard.
Well the harvest is truly plenteous but some Labourers are, well, truly daft.
So despite these crystal-clear instructions, I refused to believe that I was to leave my beloved company.
I had built it from scratch for seven long years, I reasoned. Couldn’t I just labour in it?
It made perfect sense to me.
And so I held on stubbornly for another six months, each month bringing more debt, more pain and more sorrow.
And by the time I submitted to the Lord, six months after He called me His Labourer, it was too late.
The company was broke and in debt.
It had no choice but to fold, leaving furious suppliers, disillusioned workers and miserable directors in its wake.
And a very tough lesson, very expensively learned by one very stubborn Labourer.
Well, I eventually did print that business card, and the Lord eventually even gave me a new name.
And I’m happy to report that life in this Vineyard has been infinitely more fulfilling than I could ever have thought or imagined.
Nothing compares to living one’s life purpose, and it is truly a pleasure to serve the Lord in His bountiful Vineyard.
And over the years the Lord has worked in His own ways to repair the damage occasioned by my obstinate refusal to leave my precious boat.
And now, dear reader, may I suggest that if you think Jonah is hiding somewhere in your boat, please feel free to grab him by the heel and toss him overboard, immediately!
And if you, my friend, happen to be the Jonah in your own boat, may I strenuously suggest that you jump overboard now!
The Lord will surely lead you, quite safely, to your next port of call.
And I would not be surprised if it turned out to be your best destination yet..
Related Post: Part 2 – After the Tempest
The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. Matthew 9: 37-38 (KJV)
If you have not yet met Jonah, feel free to visit him here. Who knows – he might still be in the boat..!