last week I had a really great opportunity to hear a really great sermon about Jonah and the whale. As a child and teenager I was always enamored by how God went to such great lengths to get his peoples attention and set them on a course to deliver others. Noah and the Ark, Paul going blind, Jacob wrestling with God, ect...
But the sermon on Jonah this week was not about how he was sent to save Ninivah. Nor was it about Jonah turning away from his sinfulness and truly desiring to see Ninivah saved. No Sunday School answer was sufficient here.
The pastor went a different route. First he shared what many people don't know, including myself, was that Jonah didn't run away from God because he didn't want to go to Ninivah. Nope. He ran because he didn't want that "wretched" city to have a chance of being saved. "Upright" Jonah felt that Ninivah was too far separated from God's mercy. He felt that perhaps if he didn't do it; God would forget the whole I will spare you" dialogue. Not only that, but after he did go to the city, he went and sat up on the hillside and waited for the "hellfire to rain down". Sound familiar?
How many times our own lives to we seek the route of righteous indignation!? I know if often do. I insist that others take responsibility for their own actions and if that comes in the form of a consequence, so be it. Or we make a deal with God; if I go and partake, then I an apology and more from that person or group. We get so amped up, not for the act of restitution in our own lives, but for the fireworks that happen after the confrontation.
For the past 3 years I have had this mentality with someone who used to be very close to me. Even though they took actions to distance themselves from me, I took the opportunity to reach out to them; until it hurt to much to continue. At that point I grew bitter and let it consume me. My prayer became one of justification rather than grace. "How dare they get away with hurting people?!"
God calls us to be more than Jonah was after he went to Ninivah. He never promises us the manuscript of others stories; he simply gives us the words to use for our own if we truly seek them.
"Love is Patient. Love is Kind."