Monthly Prayer Focus
When the Moment Comes!
Written by: Thomas Sledge
Seven decades ago, the moment came when then United States President Harry S. Truman made the decision to drop an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Instantly, most of that city was leveled and 140,000 people killed. Three days later another American bomber dropped a nuclear device on the city of Nagasaki, killing 40,000 to 80,000 people. In a blistering flash, life for many was forever changed.  In 1963 while before a crowd gathered at the Lincoln Memorial, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from a prepared speech espoused his vision of a future that included racial harmony. After being prompted by a gospel singer in the crowd, Mahalia Jackson, to tell about his dream, Dr. King decided in that moment to improvise and speak from his heart. His speech moved a nation and is recognized today as one of the greatest examples of public speaking in American history.  Recently, we celebrated the life of Evangelist Reverend Dr. (Billy) William Franklin Graham, Jr. His ministry-filled life was encapsulated with his persistent outreach to a nation, the world, and those facing personal moments in their lives in which he asked them simply to acknowledge their sins, confess them to their Creator, and ask the Lord Jesus Christ to come into their lives. The decisions we make in moments of jubilation or sorrow, victory or defeat, during times of peacefulness or overwhelming stress, planned or spontaneous, can profoundly change our lives and the lives of others forever. How are we to make these decisions, what are the right decisions that we should make, and what will be the guiding force that leads us to these ultimate decisions that will have such impact on our, and others’ lives. We’ll turn our attention to these questions for answers in this month’s prayer focus, When the Moment Comes.
In the Book of Jonah written in about 760 B.C., we find the Prophet Jonah. His ministry was to the Ten Northern Tribes of Israel. It bears repeating Jonah was a Prophet, it’s who he was, and his purpose in life established by God. In Jonah 1:2, God told Jonah that He was going to destroy the city, Nineveh, if the people there didn’t turn from (repent) of their wicked ways. Jonah was from the tribe of Zebulun and lived in Gathepher, a portion of Joshua’s division of the land of Israel, and located near Nazareth. Instead of traveling northeast to Nineveh as God had told him to do, Jonah decided to travel to Joppa (the Southern Kingdom of Judah) which was 35 miles southwest, and then to continue even farther to Tarshish, which was 2,500 miles from Joppa on the west coast of Spain. You get the picture, this was far away from Jonah’s God-given destination and purpose. Oh well, as the biblical account tells us, Jonah boarded a ship in Joppa headed to Tarshish. The ship was filled with other sailors and loaded cargo, and while at sea the Scripture tells us the Lord hurled a great wind, and there was a storm so powerful that it threatened to tear the ship apart. Jonah was asleep in the lower portion of the ship, unaware that his decision to deviate from God instructions not only was having dire consequences for him personally, but was also endangering the lives of the many sailors onboard the ship. Jonah was abruptly awakened from his sleep by a screaming Captain and his crew of sailors begging him to pray to God that they all would not be drowned at sea. As the story goes, they cast lots to see whose fault the storm was, the lot fell on Jonah, and Jonah admits he was the reason for the storm. Consequently, at Jonah’s request, he regrettably was lifted in the air by the sailors, and thrown overboard into the stormy waters. The Scripture tells us that after throwing Jonah overboard, the storm stopped, and the sea became calm. The ship’s crewmembers had prayed to God to forgive them for tossing Jonah overboard, and they themselves were saved from the raging storm; however, the Bible says the Lord appointed a great fish that swallowed Jonah into its belly where he remained three days and three nights.
To recap, Jonah was asleep and unaware of the storm about to consume him. The ship’s crew members terrified of its sinking, tossed all its precious cargo overboard; this represented personal and business financial loss to the crew members and their families. Jonah quickly came to the realization and acknowledgement that his decision not only affected him, but had unanticipated and immediate consequences to the innocent lives of those around him, and those whom God instructed him to warn in Nineveh.
Perhaps you’re in a moment of great decision, which consequences may carry with them weight equivalent to the of dropping of an atomic bomb. Maybe the words you choose to speak will change a person’s life, save your family, or alter the course of a nation. Or Just perhaps, your personal decision and life-long evangelistic commitment and persistent will lead many across the world to the cross where they’ll find salvation in Christ Jesus. Can you envision and hear Evangelist Dr. (Billy) William Franklin Graham, Jr.’s calling? How are we, and what is going to guide us in making these ultimate decisions. When the Moment Comes, whether it be a decision that carries with it monumental consequences, a choice of marital fidelity, a rash and misguided decision made during a state of depression, a decision to share a dream, or other lifelong commitment; what will lead us to these ultimate decisions? The Bible tells us that from the depths of Sheol (Hades, a place of stillness and darkness cut off from life and God), Jonah cried out to the Lord for help, and the Lord answered Jonah (Jonah 2:2).  Jonah was a Prophet, it’s who he was, and his purpose in life established by God. Who are you, and what has God purposed in your life? God ordered Jonah’s steps and made the decisions for his life, and when you accept his calling, he’ll do the same for you. How will we make, and what will lead us to the ultimate decision? As Evangelist Dr. (Billy) William Franklin Graham preached, by hearing the voice and Jesus and accepting its calling for our lives, then we know we make the right decisions. Our lives belong to Jesus and a righteous God makes the decisions for our lives. We only must accept, and trust and obey Christ’s calling. When we awake, what will see, and where will God find us; will we be far from God’s purposed destination? What decisions will we’ve made, and what will be the consequences for us, and others? Will God have been the decision maker for our lives? Please join with us, the Midway Prayer Ministry, as we turn our attention and focus toWhen the Moment Comes.
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