Run Like Jonah

Run Like Jonah

go to ninevah
Jonah, however, set out in the opposite direction in order to get away from the Lord.
Jonah 1:3 GNT

“What am I doing here?! I don’t belong here! I am certainly not comfortable in this place! I don’t know what to say or how to say it!”

This was my self-talk last night. My friend and I were leading Celebrate Recovery Worcester (pronounced Wusstah), an inner-city program. The setting can’t be more different than the suburban CRs I attend. But there I was (and wondering why!)

worcester old
Worcester MA

We had a couple of first-timers walk in during the meeting. I had no idea on how to relate to them. Thankfully, my friend could and did, and (to keep a long story short) we just might see them again. But had it been up to me, I fear my awkwardness would have led to nothing. Awkwardness, and fear. Yes, fear.

 

Even as we sat and talked, I was thinking about Jonah and how he ran the other way – trying to get as far away as possible – when God called him to go to the big city, Ninevah. I am not a city person, and I identify with Jonah’s reluctance because of this. But there I was, led by God’s purpose, and I needed to know (to relearn?) how I could do this.

 

jonah-map
Tarshish was in Spain

First, God places us each where we are for a reason. In hindsight, I can see His perfect timing and how each phase of my journey has prepared me for the next, even when, at the time, it seemed all wrong.

 

Let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him,
and to which God has called him.
1 Corinthians 7:17 ESV

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit…
John 15:16

Sometimes God prefers that I’m uncomfortable. As Rick Thomas puts it, “God is calling you to do what you cannot do with the ability that you do not have… because His desire is for you to rely on Him… There will be times when God will accomplish things outside of your abilities.” (rickthomas.net) His power and glory will be on display, not anything of mine.

Second, Proverbs 3:5-6 says to trust in the Lord and lean not on my own understanding of things. Easier said than done! I often have to reassure myself that I am in full agreement with what God is doing with and through me, even when it is scary. I believe He “has put dreams in our hearts and writes a destiny for our lives. And if we trust Him enough to take Him at His word, we will find ourselves on a journey toward fulfillment of that dream.” (myfaithradio.com) (Of course, my problem is that I tend to try and envision what that fulfillment will look like. I get way ahead of Him!)

When I am afraid, I will trust in You.
Psalm 56:3
(One of the first verses I found and memorized in my recovery.)

Third. Free will. Sort of. I always have the choice. Or do I? Did Jonah? I am tempted to distract myself; tempted to run like Jonah. “The flesh dies hard and unfortunately for many, they’ve opted to let their dream die before they’d ever allow their flesh to be confronted.” (myfaithradio.com) I remind myself that I choose God and His way. This helps me to really feel 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love.”

Fourth. Love. Love for others. A desire to see all get the chance that I did, to know the Creator.

But how will people call on Him in whom they have not believed?
And how will they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?
And how will they hear without a messenger?
Romans 10:14 AMP

082Finally, what to say? This is an easy one. First, the more I share my testimony – God’s Story in my life – the easier it gets, and the better it’s delivered (I hope). But I remember

…the Holy Spirit will give you the words to say at the moment you need them…
Luke 12:12 VOICE

So, it’s almost like I don’t have to do anything except show up.

This post is important to me because I know the feeling of wanting unpleasantness “out of sight, out of mind.” I have no ill will toward the least of these. I think it’s more about “ignorance being bliss.” I can pretend to not be aware; to be filled with the direction of my own life and not want(?) to worry about anybody else’s.

I have a couple of great songs to go with this blog! Two of my very favorites.

“These Are The Words I Would Say”  is from the Sidewalk Prophets (a great band name!)
You can download it from my Amazon affiliate link here.

“I Refuse” is from Josh Wilson, and is one of the first songs I heard in my journey.
You can download it here.

When “Finding God” Is All That’s Left

You, Lord, are our Father. We are nothing but clay, but you are the potter who molds us.
Isaiah 64:8

Heavenly Father, Master Potter, you design each one of us and sculpt us from clay and dust into images of you, the likeness of Jesus Christ – but you give us a choice. The choice is a simple one: to accept that we are the product of your hands, skillfully made for specific purposes, for glorious reasons; or to see ourselves – not as beautiful reflections of you but as standalone originals, equals to you, gods in our own lives, in our own minds, with ambitions we decide and define for ourselves.

How we must disappoint you when we choose the latter!

But some of us are blessed to be given – to be suddenly struck by – the recognition of our origin, our place and means of manufacture, our humble beginnings, middles, and ends. For us, life ceases to be a struggle for survival (of the fittest). It is no longer a challenge and a competition to make something of ourselves – by ourselves – through our manipulations of others. Instead, life becomes a peaceful and joy-filled journey of adventure to see and experience every single thing and moment – even the frightful ones – and each and every companionable meeting of brothers and sisters that you have planned for us. On our years-long trips through your wondrous creation, we find opportunities to demonstrate our choice – not to build our own vain-glory, but to lift up, encourage, and shine your light to illuminate the paths of those trapped or lost in the darkness of despair.

What a treat to have such a cause as our motivation! To simply, humbly follow the clues and cues you have hidden, sometimes quite plainly, in this divine “scavenger” hunt, when “finding” you is all there is.

Lord, the work of “doing” within people is yours. Yes, we can boast slightly that it starts with what they see and hear and feel from us, those who believe and know just this much: that you are the Master Builder and we are of your workmanship.

God, we have a funeral today, to celebrate a broken but repaired jar of clay returning to your eternal workshop in glory.  We who remain here need to discover again your comfort and assurance. I pray for this.

In Jesus’ life-changing name, Amen.

…To Bring Comfort Where There Must Be Loss…

For our present troubles are small and won’t last long, yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and that will last forever! 2 Cor 4:17

Heavenly Father, Creator God, for whom nothing is impossible. Lord, this morning the health of others is on my mind: B, B and family, M, R’s dad, to name a few. We humans don’t like the thought of death or even sickness, even though they are both sure to happen to us – the former especially as the final event in this life for every one of us. I think the the real thing we feel, Father, is fear. Some of us fear the manner of our own end. But many fear the loss of companionship of someone dear. Abandonment, of a sort. This fear, Lord, is rooted in believing there is nothing after this life. But your children sincerely work at believing, however, that the death of this body is just a release, a doorway home to eternity with you, Father God, our maker.

How can this be frightening!? It is the removal of all the bad and sad things of this world! It is the reunion with those who have simply left before us.

Lord, I thank you for this new day you have given me. I thank you for the opportunity to be a source of comfort for those who must deal with loss – of any kind, but especially of someone closer.

In Jesus’ life-returning name…

In every joy-filled moment of this day you have made…