Recently, God has brought me to the Book of Jonah. I thought it was strange because in my memory, Jonah is a pretty crappy prophet. All he did was run from God and when he finally submitted to the task that God had for him, he was annoyed and told God that he would rather God strike him dead than to save the people of Nineveh. How much worse can you get?
Jonah sounds like a child complaining to his parent about being forced to do something they don’t want to do. In order of events:
God told Jonah to go to Nineveh. I don’t want to!! I’m not gonna!!
Jonah got on a boat to go the opposite way. Haha, I got away. I’m going to take a nap and relax now.
God sent a storm so bad that the crew started freaking out. They found out that Jonah was to blame. Okay, okay. It’s my fault. Just throw me overboard, so I will die.
While in the ocean, a whale swallowed him and he was in the belly of the whale for 3 days and 3 nights. Lord, if you save me I will obey you. There are others, like those evil Ninevites, that don’t listen to you. I know you and know that Salvation only comes from You.
The whale spit Jonah out on the shore and God told him to go to Nineveh again. Okay, fine. I’ll go, but only because You told me to.
Jonah walked through the city of Nineveh for 3 days saying, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The people fasted and repented. Jonah told the King to proclaim a fast and said, “Who knows, God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” God saw that they turned from their evil ways and relented.
Jonah left, sat on a hill and angrily watched the city waiting for God to destroy it. Ugh, Lord!! I knew you would do that!! I knew you would be gracious and compassionate, but it’s better for you to kill me than for you to save those evil people!
God felt sorry that Jonah was sitting in the heat and grew a leafy plant to protect him from the sun. Yey, thanks for the shade! Now I can sit out here and watch You destroy them!!
Then the plant was eaten by a worm. Just let me die!!
God asks, “Is it right that you are angry about the plant?” Ugh, I’m so angry that I wish I would die!!
But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left–and also many animals?”
My reaction: What in the world, Lord? What does this have to do with me? I’m not Jonah; you have saved me and I would never want to get in the way of you saving anyone else.
Him: But you are him. You have been fighting me every step of the way in the plan that I have for you. Every time I try to get closer to you and lead you, you shut down emotionally and stop talking to Me. You only talk to Me when you think that I have given you the okay to go the path that you have planned out. Then every time your plan doesn’t work out, you run away from Me and pout.
Huh? Oh, huh… yeah, that’s what I’ve been doing. Once again, the path that I assumed was the door that God opened for me has shut in my face. The job that I did all the paperwork for and was honestly only doing it because it paid really well (I had no passion or concern for it) has not worked out. To be honest, I’m pretty annoyed about it. Not because it was my dream job or that I cared in the least about working there. I’m pissed because once again, the door opened but slammed in my face as soon as I moved to step through the doorway.
The truth is though, I knew the whole time I went though the job process that it wasn’t right for me. I am not the type of person who would keep a job just because it pays well. Especially when it comes to people. No parent wants a teacher for their child who is just there for a paycheck, and that is what I would have been.
What I know is that God is putting me on a different path than teaching K-12 English. I don’t know exactly what it is yet, but I do know that He has been giving me hints and has put a passion in my heart that can’t exactly explain. He has put ideas in my head that don’t necessarily relate right now.
I want Him to tell me why I’m doing these seemingly random things. I want to plan, but He wants me to be obedient in what He has given me now and to slow down. He is working on my heart. He is preparing me for the next step. He’s asking me to stop striving and sprinting towards every open door and to ask Him to tell me yes or no before I move.
But He also is asking me to stop complaining about every step. He’s humbling me to wait for Him and to submit to His plan.
Lord, You know that as soon as I feel You trying to lead me somewhere unfamiliar or contrary to where I want to go, I pull away and run from You. I am afraid of the plan You have for me. I am afraid that I can’t trust what I think you are saying to me. That I will misinterpret it and go on the wrong path, or that I will hear it right but it might make my life harder than it already is. But ultimately, I trust You. I trust Your provision and protection. I trust that Your plan for my life is better than anything that I could come up with. Please, lift me from the miry clay and lead me where You know I should go. Thank You for Your grace, guidance, and sometimes discipline that You have used as a wake-up call for me. I pray that You give me strength and peace that comes only from You. Amen.