Call to Prayer

Forest Fire
Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
— Isaiah 55:6-7

I know that “thoughts and prayers” is a controversial phrase right now.

The world is falling apart, and those literally running for their lives or hearing that a loved one has perished don’t want a thoughts-and-prayers tweet from someone sitting in their pajamas with a bowl of ice cream.

So it is with tenderness (and prayer) that I write. This message won’t be easy to read, but for those with ears to hear, I ask that these words plant themselves in your soul. Because prayer is what we need right now. Not the only thing, but a main thing. Please hear me. Don’t stop praying now.

Don’t stop praying now.

Who remembers the story of Jonah and the Whale?

It’s a childhood Sunday-school classic: Jonah is called by God to deliver a message to a wicked city called Nineveh. “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” (Jonah 1:2) But Jonah doesn’t want to go, so he disobeys God and boards a ship headed far, far away. Thinking he can hide from God, he goes to the lowest part of the boat and there, he falls asleep.

In the meantime, God sends a terrifying storm after Jonah. The sailors, fearing for their lives, begin to pray to their pagan gods. “…But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep. So the captain came to him, and said to him, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.” (Jonah 1:5b-6)

Jonah is a prophet. He knows that the storm is because of his disobedience, so he tells the sailors to cast him overboard into the raging sea. It takes some convincing, but when they do, the storm ceases immediately.

And then Jonah is swallowed whole by a great big fish.

He lives in that fish for three days and three nights. It is his own version of a dark night of the soul, a time of reckoning, a come-to-Jesus meeting in the belly of a fish. He surrenders to do God’s will, and the fish vomits him out onto dry land.

Moral of the story? When God tells you to do something, do it.

But no one really talks about what happened to Nineveh.

 Jonah and the Whale by Pieter Lastman, 1621

Jonah and the Whale by Pieter Lastman, 1621

Increased volcanic activity…

The devastating fires in California…

The unprecedented hurricanes of 2017 and 2018…

Newly-discovered diseases, spreading of diseases, and re-emerging of old plagues…

The floods, drought, mysterious animal deaths, and famines worldwide…

Political division, racial division, and every other kind of division you can think of…

Unprecedented mass killings, bizarre human behavior, rampant drug use, unthinkable violence, and opened floodgates of immorality…

Beloved, the world as we know it is not going to heal. It’s going to get worse before it gets better, which is why we can’t stop praying now.

These things were prophesied in Scripture. The same book you read in Sunday School when you were nine years old—with stories of Jonah and the Whale, Noah and the Ark, Moses and the Ten Commandments, Joseph and Mary and the baby Jesus—tells us that God will show “wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.” (Joel 2:30-31, KJV). It tells us, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.” (Luke 21:10b-11) 

Behold, the day of the Lord comes,
Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger,
To lay the land desolate;
And He will destroy its sinners from it.
—Is. 13:9

Therefore I will shake the heavens,
And the earth will move out of her place,
In the wrath of the Lord of hosts
And in the day of His fierce anger.
—Is. 13:13

We are warned. Over and over and over in Scripture. The Day of the Lord is coming, and we can’t say we didn’t know.

We cannot say we didn’t know. Only, some do not believe. Dear heart, God is not mocked. The Day of the Lord is coming. Do not ignore this message, I implore you! We cannot stop praying now. If God was going to overthrow the ancient city of Nineveh, with a population of over 120,000 people (Jonah 4:11) around 750 BC, what do you think He would do with our modern cities with millions? Is the world less evil now?

 The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season became the most recent season to feature four simultaneous named storms, after  2008 . Visible in the image is  Florence  ( left ),  Isaac  ( bottom center ),  Helene  ( lower right ), and  Joyce  ( upper right ) on September 12.

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season became the most recent season to feature four simultaneous named storms, after 2008. Visible in the image is Florence (left), Isaac (bottom center), Helene (lower right), and Joyce (upper right) on September 12.

Jonah: the rest of the story

So after the great big fish deposits Jonah onto dry land, he continues on to the city of Nineveh with the message God gave him.

“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three-day journey in extent. And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:1-4)

“Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” This is God’s warning of judgment on a wicked city. Notice His mercy? “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9) Despite their wickedness, God gave the Ninevites time to repent. Because of the warning, they could never say, “We didn’t know.”

Guess what happened? They repented. And so did God.

“So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying,

Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?

“Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.”—Jonah 3:5-10

Remember that Jonah was sleeping? God sent a storm to wake him up.

God is still sending storms.

Beloved, there is still time for YOU.

For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
— 2 Cor. 6:2

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. Listen! Wake up, beloved! You are being shaken. The whole earth is being shaken. You are so desperately loved! Listen to the love!

Am I saying that every disaster is from God? I am saying that Scripture is being fulfilled. God sends storms and man sets fires and man runs airplanes into buildings. Remember how 9/11 evoked a temporary spiritual change within America? It marked a turning point in our land. But we’ve forgotten. It’s time to wake up. It’s time to remember and to repent. It is time to seek the Lord, to call upon Him and pray with our whole hearts. It is time to consider our souls. It is time to stop sleeping, to stop being swayed by culture—the culture can’t save you! Hollywood can’t save you. A huge following on Instagram won’t save you. Stop being afraid. Stop being politically correct. Political correctness will not save you. Social correctness will not save you. Do not be afraid. Your soul matters. Seek the Lord. Put your faith in the Savior to save you.

 Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. Listen! Wake up, beloved! You are being shaken. The whole earth is being shaken. You are so desperately loved! Listen to the love!

Political correctness will not save you. Social correctness will not save you. Wake up.
Do not be afraid. Turn to the Lord.

Trust in the Lord. No matter what happens, if you’re His, you’ll be okay. Because yes, there is climate change. The climate of the human race that has lost the fear of God. God, who, as Jonah said, “made the sea and the dry land.” (Jonah 1:9) Do not think that God has forgotten His creation. We are told in Revelation 11:18 that God will destroy those who destroy the earth. The sea is His. The storm is His. And He made you.

Tell me: how else should He get your attention? What would you rather Him to have done? You who have forgotten God…how else would you hear? How else would you see? Your life is blessed, and you say it is because you manifested it. You are in great pain, and force yourself to stay positive. Yet a poet of your own, Rumi, said, “The wound is the place light enters you.” Yet you deny the wound, and you deny the true Light. You say “love and light” and you say “love is love.” But God is love, and Jesus is the true Light. If you acknowledge the wound, and turn to the true Healer who loves you desperately, you can find true peace. And if you believe that your sins have been washed away by the One who took your punishment for you, you can have eternal life.

“So the people of Nineveh believed God.”

Beloved of my heart, do you believe God?

The truth is, more disasters are coming. Natural and man-made. I implore you: get right with God. If you have been wavering, get strong. If you have not put your faith in Jesus who died on the cross for your sins, do so today. Please. Let go of the things of the world. Let go of whatever does not hold eternal significance. Let the Holy Spirit heal you, inside-out. Seek the Lord while He may be found.

“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…” (1 Cor. 15:1-4)

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:14-18) 

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Do not stop praying now.

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Here is a portion of Jonah’s beautiful prayer when he was deep in the belly:

When my soul fainted within me,
I remembered the Lord;
And my prayer went up to You,
Into Your holy temple.
Those who regard worthless idols
Forsake their own Mercy.
But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving;
I will pay what I have vowed.
Salvation is of the Lord.
— Jonah 2:7-9

Salvation is of the Lord.

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Whether or not you send “thoughts and prayers,” the most Scriptural way to respond to a crisis or natural disaster is to pray-and-do. Pray always and do what you can. If you are in a position to be feet-on-the-ground, hands-on-help in a time of need, DO IT.

“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:16-18)

“If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:15-17)

But please do not stop praying.

 
 
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.”

Therefore He says:

“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.
— Ephesians 5:8-14
love, hillary
Hillary McFarland