I love a good church service; one that makes me look deeply at my own flaws, and at Scripture with fresh eyes.
Sunday was such a day.
We had a guest pastor. A retired senior pastor shared on Jonah, a book I love. I saw myself in the pages. This is not a new thing, but I recognized myself in a new way. Habits. Mistakes. Areas of total lack of generosity.
I am excited! Seeing those things means that I can repent! And with repentance comes hope.
Perhaps part of the reason I could see things clearly is because I am in fairly good spirits. This is a good season of life. I am busy with the things that are important and seeking Him with a renewed zeal. There are times when my introspection is not born of (or with) condemnation, but just flow out of a life walking with Jesus. Some of the things I learned were review, some were fresh revelations. I LOVE learning about the Bible.
Here were my AHA! moments:
- Jonah fled from his assignment. Yeah, not new. I do this often. I let fear or finances or exhaustion keep me from what God has assigned. I may not run away from home, but I do sloth my way in the opposite direction of His calling.
- Jonah was irritated by God’s blessings for those Jonah did not approve of. Well, golly. There I am in the middle of Scripture, yet again. If I were to be completely, vulnerably honest I would have to admit that I kinda don’t want God to bless those on my personal do not bless list. The pastor said, “We all have our pet evil…” Then he pointed out that the answer is ALWAYS love your enemies. Ouch.
- Jonah’s theology was right but his heart was wrong. This next insight leapt off the page at me! Once God saved Ninevah, Jonah asked God, “Please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.” Jonah decided that only the worst, most extreme thing–ending his life–was an option. BOTH my hubby and I have the tendency to do this. I call it catastrophizing. I have made progress in dealing with this by eliminating ALWAYS and NEVER from the narrative in my head; and by trying to remember that I trust God even when I don’t understand His ways.
I don’t ask for my life to end, but I do tell the story of hard things in a way that predicts the end of ideas, or opportunities, or relationships or dreams. I am Jonah.
I noticed more. In chapter 4, when the Ninevites had repented and God forgave them, Jonah went “out from the city and sat east of it. There he made himself a shelter for himself and sat under it until he could see what would happen in the city.”
I have often wanted the vantage point to see what happens. Mostly so I can point out where I was right, and judge the people I think are wrong, but whatever my thing, it was not my finest moment. To be fair, I am not as demanding as I once was. I am now more willing not to know answers and details, and am often praying for the wisdom to leave the outcomes to God.
But there is still part of me that is Jonah.