By Jim Shoffstall
I had kind of a funny thing happen this morning (well, maybe not funny in the sense of being humorous, but sort of).
I was approached by one of my co-workers during shift change this morning (yes, I know I work too much) with what he describes as a “religious” question. He proceeded to tell me about a patient that the crew had transported early that morning (0-dark-thirty). This young man of 27 years or so was in a car with three other men when the driver lost control of the vehicle causing it to crash through the wall of a church. As a result of the impact (and quite probably lack of a seatbelt) this young man was thrown out of the vehicle and subsequently ended up on the floor of the sanctuary of the church they had struck.
After sharing the details of the accident, Jason asked me to share my thoughts with regard to where the patient ended up.
Without thinking, my response was something similar to this: “Well, sounds to me as if God really wants that fella’ to get into church”.
That gave us all a good laugh. However this evening I decided to explore this scenario a little deeper. A question that comes to mind is this: Does God permit events to take place in our lives in an attempt to get our attention? If so, to what extreme will He go to accomplish this?
What do you think? Has God used some “Attention Getters” in your life?
I can think of a few events which may have been used to get my attention. First there were the repeated requests from my wife and son to come to this great new church with them (CUMC).
Needless to say, I was very resistant!
Then, I can imagine our Lord saying to my wife something like this: “Tell him about the church softball team-that should do the trick”.
Well, it worked. God got my attention and started to reveal himself to me through the men of Christ United Methodist Church, morning sermons, and scripture (which, by the way, I had never laid eyes upon before).
So, it would appear as though God didn’t have to “holler” too loud to get me to look in His direction. I must not have wanted to stay away from him as much as I thought.
For those of you who are Christians, how loud did God’s voice have to be to get your attention?
For those who may be reading this who are not Christians, how much do you think it would take to get you to turn toward Christ and give Him a chance to become a part of your life? I am not talking about just getting involved with a church. Rather, I am referring to a one-on-one relationship with our Lord Jesus! I never used to want anything to do with what I referred to as “organized religion”; I viewed it as nothing more than show business. However, once Christ revealed Himself to me, I saw that my views were distorted and suddenly I wanted to be a part of His church.
What will it take? Something simple (such as a request from your wife and son). Or will it take something more extreme such as a hurricane (why hurricane? Well, did you see the picture which found its way onto the internet? This was a shot taken of a billboard along some highway which I believe was in Florida; the outer banner was torn to shreds making what was underneath visible. Now visible was a black background with white lettering which read “We need to talk-God”). I thought that was quite an attention getter.
Would God really get that extreme to gain our attention? Let’s refer to the Book of Jonah.
Here was a man for whom God had an assignment:
The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” (Jonah 1:1, 2)
Jonah, like many of us, ran in the opposite direction:
But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord. (Jonah 1: 3)
Seeing that Jonah wasn’t paying attention, the Lord tried to make His point a little clearer:
Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. (Jonah 1:4)
Jonah got the hint as evidenced in chapter 1:12: Pick me up and throw me into the sea”; “I know it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you”.
After this, Jonah spent three days in the belly of a great fish before being “vomited” onto dry land. Now that the Lord had Jonah’s attention, he spoke again: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” (Jonah 3:2)
So Jonah obeyed.
All of us need to open our hearts to God. Like driving a car, when we start to notice a lot of unusual “bumps”, we may need to open our eyes and take a peek at where we are headed. These “bumps” could be an indication that we have lost control of our vehicle and are now headed for a brick wall.
For those of us who have gotten ourselves into positions of being thrown into a “violent sea” such as Jonah, we must know that God offers us a means to return to dry land. Once on dry land, we need to stay on the path which leads in the direction of God’s plan for our lives. Although that path will often times be an uphill struggle, at least we will have something solid on which to place our feet. I myself haven’t had much luck walking on the rough waves of the sea.
Have a blessed week!
Jim is an active member of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, IL. He works as full time Flight Paramedic and when he is not working saving lives, you will find utilizing his free time serving Jesus in various capacities. We are excited to have him share on this blog!