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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.’ 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. Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.
(Jonah 1:1-6)
Each year we celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday and no matter what your opinion of the man, it cannot be denied that he served as a catalyst for change in America. His obedience to his purpose affected the lives of many and helped change the course of a nation. That was Dr. King’s obedience, yet what about yours?

Have you ever given thought as to how your obedience or disobedience affects others? In our society, we are taught to believe that we are independent of each other; we believe our actions affects us largely, but at minimum our closest family and friends. If we are honest, we never think how our actions affect the lives of perfect strangers and if we do give thought to it, it is quickly dismissed or minimized. After all, how can our actions truly affect strangers or even the multitude?

Yet scripture gives us a perfect example of how our solitary actions not only affect us, but affect those whom we have never met. Jonah received a Word from God and instead of obeying that Word, Jonah acted in disobedience and fled to a ship that would take him to Tarshish. Soon after, a great storm raged, and the very ship Jonah used as an escape became a near death prison for he and all aboard.

However, to me, the most interesting aspect of this biblical recounting is not that the storm was directly tied to Jonah’s disobedience. What is interesting is how perfect strangers were in a bad situation because Jonah chose to flee. Perfect strangers. We never know the effect of our actions on others; many times we view the ripple as having an immediate effect in our lives, never realizing that the effect can be felt for years afterward.

Someone once made a decision that affects you today. You may not know the person’s name, but a decision was made. You, too, have made decisions that affect people you have never met.

Eventually, after being thrown overboard from the ship, after staying in the belly of a great fish for three days, Jonah would submit to God’s will and go to Nineveh and preach His word. And from that delayed obedience an entire city would repent and receive the mercy of God’s hand. They repented because of the Word that Jonah delivered.

Our actions affect more than us, they always do. You don’t have to hold a position of power or have the world as your stage to change the world for someone you may never meet. Instead, all you have to do is be obedient to where God is calling you to serve and how He is calling you, be it, telling someone about Him or to finally walk out on faith and casting your cares on Him.

At The Cross Global Ministries
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Shaniqua Rischer
Web site: Shaniqua Rischer
Passionate, Loving, Loyal, Engaging, Obedient, and Direct are words often used to describe Shaniqua Rischer. However, the words she loves to be known for the most are Christian and daughter of the Most High God. Shaniqua Rischer was born and raised in Dallas, TX, and is the youngest of three children. Her father was an educator and she grew up in a family where education was emphasized as the foundation for success. At the age of 22, Shaniqua dedicated her life to Christ and has been on a quest for a closer relationship with God ever since that time. "To live a life of faith and to be of service to all I meet is my ultimate desire" says Shaniqua.

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