Monday, April 18, 2011

My "Jonah Mood"

Proverbs 5:17 (MSG)
Your spring water is for you and you only, not to be passed around among strangers.

That word "strangers" has me thinking about the mood I am in today.  I would call it a  "Jonah Mood".  What does that mean?  Well, going forward from Proverbs to the book of Jonah, we find this guy that has received alot of attention on flannel boards in the kids Sunday School departments throughout history.  Usually, the focus gets put on the "big fish" that swallows Jonah alive, where he then lives in the belly of the gargantuan creature for three days and three nights before getting spit out on dry land....unharmed I might add.    Pretty cool story in and of itself, but that misses my "mood" portion.  Let me try to explain.

You see, the way I figure it, when you start at the very beginning of the book, you have a man feeling pretty much the way I'm feeling right now.  He's feeling sorry for himself and doesn't want to do what God, very directly, told him to do. 

Listen to it in Jonah 1:1-4(MSG) "One day long ago, God's Word came to Jonah, Amittai's son:  "Up on your feet and on your way to the big city of Nineveh!  Preach to them.  They're in a bad way and I can't ignore it any longer."  But Jonah got up and went the other direction to Tarshish, running away from God.  He went down to the port of Joppa and found a ship headed for Tarshish.  He paid the fare and went on board, joining those going to Tarshish--as far away from God as he could get.

Are you catching his mood?  He doesn't want to do what God has asked him to do.  He really seems to be a little ticked off at God.  We know that he certainly wants to run away from God!!  Why on earth would he want to run away from God?  Weird huh?  Well, Jonah gets thrown into the water by the crew thinking that he has made His God mad and created this storm.  (I figure that Jonah probably did make God a little cranky.)   That's when the whale enters the story.  As Jonah is being tossed over....cue the whale.....he is scooped up and saved by the whale and placed in the beast's belly.   After a very touching prayer in the belly of the fish, Jonah is spit out on dry land. 

That is the part of the story that gets most of the attention.  But, if you keep reading, you find out what this is all my estimation anyway.  It seems that the second directive to Jonah from God is identical to the first~Jonah 3:1-2, but this time the response from Jonah is totally different!  Jonah 3:3~"This time Jonah started off straight for Nineveh, obeying God's orders to the letter."  He told the people that "In forty days Nineveh will be smashed!"

The immediate response of the king of Nineveh was to throw down his royal robes, dress in burlap and sit in the dirt.  He ordered everyone else in his kingdom to due the same, including all herds and flocks.  The king told them to turn from their evil and violent ways, quit eating and drinking (even water), and cry out to God for help.  He proceeded to tell them that if they did this, then just maybe God would let them live.  He must have been a pretty impressive leader, because the people did exactly what they were told to do.  

Pretty cool thing happens next....if I didn't think that talking to God can sometimes alter the course of His plans...I got my proof in this story cuz....guess what?  Yeap...Almighty God decides to let them all live and not smash the city to smithereens.  I know...isn't that the coolest??! 

That's where my friend Jonah's mood comes in.  Listen to it in Jonah 4:1-2(MSG) "Jonah was furious.  He lost his temper.  He yelled at God, 'God!  I knew it--I knew it--when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen!  That's why I ran off to Tarshish!  I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness!'" (emphasis mine)  It's like Jonah is irate because God is going to help a bunch of no good strangers that aren't even worthy of His attention.  But check out what God says to him.  God replies to Jonah, "What do you have to be angry about?"  Jonah doesn't answer...he just walks out of the city and sits down.

The story continues outside in the hot sun, where God grows a tree for Jonah to have shade and then sends a worm the next day to eat it.  When that makes Jonah mad, God refers back to the fact that Jonah neither planted nor watered it...had nothing to do with it.  It is the same with the people of Ninevah, God explains, and if God wants to spare it....who is Jonah to get all mad about it!!?

Yeap....I'm definitely in a Jonah Mood.  Mad because I understand God's sheer grace and mercy is extended to each of us with a plan for forgiveness....even the those who hurt us and betray our trust.  The problem with living in this anger is that I hear His gentle voice asking me, just as He did Jonah, "What do you have to be angry about?  Did you create this person?  Were you anywhere around when I designed this life?"  My answer to Him is: nothing, nope, and absolutely not!  Please forgive me Lord! 

So, I can live in my Jonah Mood for awhile, I suppose.  I can curl up in the bottom of the boat and try to go to sleep with the storms of life tossing me to and fro.  Or, I can get up and walk in my convictions....not my emotions?  Huh?  What are my convictions you ask?  Pretty simple.....God is a good God and does all things well.  God is a loving and just God and will care for my needs and the needs of my family.  God sees all of our hurts and cares deeply for us as we weep. 

Praying tonight for God to help me to grow in my convictions and to pull me out of my Jonah Mood!!  Praising Him tonight for giving me His word to freely read and reminding me of stories about plan old people like myself.

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