Who's Paying?

I came across an interesting phrase during my Bible reading this morning.  I'm always amazed at the things that can jump out at me from passages that I've read more times than I can count.  I guess God shows us what we need when we need it or when we're able to handle it.  Anyway, I was reading about Jonah, and a single phrase jumped up and did a little jig across the page.  (Well, not quite, but it really did capture my attention.)

We all know how the story begins.  God tells Jonah to go to Ninevah to preach the Word, and Jonah promptly heads in the opposite direction.  We could park it right there for a while, couldn't we?  But, let's move on to my point. 

But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. - Jonah 1:3

First off, trying to flee from the presence of the Lord?  Well, duh, Jonah.  You can't flee from one who's omnipresent (present everywhere).  But that's still not the phrase that got me.  Notice how the Scripture makes a point of saying, "so he paid the fare thereof."  As soon as I read that, I thought about the old saying that goes, "Where God guides, He provides.  When you're out of God's will, you foot the bill."  Isn't that exactly what was happening to Jonah?  It is, and I can prove it.  If you flip over to chapter three, after Jonah's had a whale of a time (sorry, I just couldn't resist), you'll see his voyage to Ninevah.

So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. - Jonah 3:3-4

Did you see any mention of Jonah paying a fare?  No?  Me either.  What I did see is that God said "go," so Jonah went and made a three-days' journey in a single day.  Now, I realize that Jonah was probably in a hurry to get busy doing what God had told him to do to begin with.  But still, three days of travel in one day is miraculous.  Where God guides, He provides.  But the opposite is true as well.  When we're out of His will, we'll pay the bill, just like Jonah did.

Keep in mind, too, that the provision and/or payment doesn't always mean monetary.  It could mean many things.  The point is that as long as we're in God's will, He will make a way.  He'll provide what we need to accomplish His will.  Outside of His will, we're on our own.  God had no intentions of paying Jonah's fare to run from Him.  He won't pay ours either.

Do you want to be successful in this life?  Would you like to see God provide again and again?  If so, stay in His will.  Don't run.  Don't ride the fence.  Don't hem and haul.  As the Nike slogan says, "Just do it!"  You'll be glad you did!