I am honored to be a guest writer today! Check out johnnywholeheart.com too, such great encouragement!
This winter I feel like all I did was fight with my son about wearing shorts to school (ummm, you remember this winter; the one that is still kinda hanging around,and is one of the coldest on record)! He was always trying to persuade me to come to his side. He would say things like, he didn’t even go outside during the day. Everyone else in his class was wearing shorts! And my favorite; the school is really, really hot during the winter! The list went on and on. And I kept saying no. Over and over, I kept saying no! I said no, because I knew the forecast. I said no, because I didn’t want him to get frostbite. I could see the bigger picture and he was only seeing what everyone else was doing.
This made me think; is this how I deal with God? When he wants me to change my mind, do I argue with him? Am I so convinced that my way is the best way that I won’t even hear what he has to say? Do I get upset with Him whenever He wants me to do something contrary to what I think would be the best?
I’ll admit it, I don’t like it when I don’t get my way! Sometimes, I remind myself of Jonah. You know the guy from the belly of the fish. The guy that ran and yelled at God when He changed His mind about destroying Nineveh. The guy that actually responded to God’s; Do you do well to be angry? (Jonah 4:4) by leaving! That’s right, he just walked away without saying a word, from the Most High God! Oh, wait he also tells God that he angry enough to die (verse 9)!
And you know what? I’ve said worse. And you know what? He loves me anyway.
Back to Jaden…..
So, one day I didn’t argue. He came downstairs in shorts and I didn’t send him back up to change. I let him wear the shorts. Guess what? He never did that again! He was FROZEN! It took all my self control to keep from saying I TOLD YOU SO!
Which made me think of all the times I have forced my own way only to find out it was a not such a great idea! So, instead of reminding him that I was right; I turned the seat warmer on for him when he got in the van!
Like Jaden, I don’t always see the bigger picture. Sometimes, it takes me waiting out in the cold to realize that God has my best interest at heart. Oh, my word! He could say I TOLD YOU SO many, many times! Instead, He just wraps His arms around me and warms me up!
It’s Friday! This means that I don’t have to pack lunches for two whole days, woohoo!!!! It also means that it is She Shares Truth day….I know you are probably getting tired of me gushing about She Reads Truth but I guess you just have to deal with it, okay? 🙂 Hop over to their site for some amazing news!
This week we looked at Jonah 3 & 4 (you can read it here if you would like).
Jonah heads into Nineveh, gets about 1/3 of the way in and starts preaching God’s judgement. He tells them of God’s plan for the city if they continue their evil practices. They need to change what they are doing ASAP or else! Guess what? THEY LISTENED! The Ninevites change their ways, they tear their clothes, they fast, and they turn to God. The Ninevites changed their hearts and changed God’s mind (verse 10 in The Message) I don’t know about you, but to me that just overflows with hope! Jonah was able to see the Lord’s hand move in love instead of judgement. This sounds like a pretty good day to me.
Jonah has just experienced the grace of God in a HUGE way! For the THIRD time! And what does he do….he runs….again! He runs and sulks! There was no rejoicing in God’s mercy. There was no celebration of God’s grace. He went and sulked outside the city.
He tells God that he would rather die than see the Ninevites saved. That’s why he refused to go in the first place, that’s why he hid in the bottom of the ship (he figured he was dead anyway), that’s why it took him 3 whole days to cry out to God! He even says in verse 2 of chapter 4 “….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!”
God’s grace is so deep we cannot even begin to understand it! His mercy is beyond compare! His love is unrelenting! He could have used anyone, but he chose to use Jonah. He pursued Jonah. And Jonah was blind to that pursuit. And Jonah’s heart was hard. Because the more I read the story of Jonah, the more I see that this story is bigger than a man who was swallowed by a fish, and about more than a city being saved. This story is about the contrast of our hearts and the heart of God. Our hearts are so hard. Our hearts need Jesus. And God’s heart is relentless in His pursuit to bring us to Him. His heart is soft toward us even though we are covered in sin. He wants us! He doesn’t just pursues us to punish us, He wants us to make Him change His mind. The hope that this brings is changing my world!
Listen to the words of this song; Hillsongs United Relentless and think of Nineveh. And think of grace. And think of mercy. And just try to fathom how amazing it is that God’s heart wants ours!
This seems to have been such a LONG week…..I am kinda glad it’s over and the weekend will be here shortly! Not that the weekend makes anything that happened this week less important but it just feels like hopefully the air will be a little lighter that’s all!
It is also She Shares Truth Friday! I am not sure how many of you are participating in the Jonah study from She Reads Truth but it has been really amazing; the thought that the Lord wanted Jonah so badly that he pursued him across an ocean is incredible. When you add in that he was being a stubborn and flat-out running in the opposite direction of his call it makes the story drip with God’s grace and mercy! And not just for the Ninevites, but for Jonah, and ultimately for you and me.
I read the first two chapters of Jonah (you can read them here if you would like) and was honestly shocked at how fast and far Jonah ran away. He heard his call from the Lord and immediately boarded a ship that would take him basically across His known world in the opposite direction of where God had called him. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, he decides to go take a nap in the bottom of the ship while a storm rages above him. It’s almost like he was trying to get as far away from God as possible; like he was saying “Go ahead, and try to find me here!”
And God found him, and took him even deeper; to the bottom of the ocean in the belly of a huge fish! Can you imagine? Not only was Jonah’s faith completely outdone by the heathen crew (when they heard he was a Hebrew, they showed so much more fear and respect for the living God than Jonah did), but it took being in the belly of a fish to prove to Jonah that God will NEVER fail!
I wonder how differently we would live our lives if we truly believed that He never fails? If we could step back and look at the mountains in our lives and keep climbing knowing that with God we will not fall! We may not be able to see what the plan is exactly (Jonah thought he was gonna bring the judgement of God down a sinful city) but trusting His heart can make it easier to walk His way.
And Jonah’s salvation came through the Lord alone. In the belly of that giant fish at the bottom of the ocean Jonah called out to God and He heard. In that moment Jonah realized His God would never fail! It didn’t matter how far he tried to run, or where he tried to hide; GOD NEVER FAILS! And His grace will chase us to the depths of the earth if that’s where we run!
Another great song from Hillsong United; God is Able
Have a great weekend!