Archive for December 29th, 2007
God has sometimes provided things in my — and I’m guessing also in your life — that we didn’t immediately appreciate. In fact, this “provision” for the Lord seemed more like a punishment, a curse, or a calamity. In fact, when the “LORD God provided” it to us, we might have even been angry with God for not taking care of us as we thought He ought to do so.
When Jonah rebelled against God and his shipmates tossed him overboard, God “provided” a fish for his rescue. Jonah had a task to do that God had commanded him to do. Nineveh was a great city that needed the opportunity to repent and to turn to God. Jonah had rebelled directly against God’s will. For each of these reasons, Jonah needed to be rescued. It wasn’t that his life was in peril — Jonah would die sooner or later anyway. It was that Jonah’s relationship with God and the people of Nineveh were in peril. God provided Jonah an escape from his rebellion and an escape to the purpose God had given him.
But Jonah’s heart clearly wasn’t right. Even though Jonah did what the Lord asked of him and Nineveh was saved, Jonah resented these results. Jonah’s heart was not saved and his relationship with God remained in peril. Jonah hated the people of Nineveh and he as mad that they were spared. God has more work to do to give Jonah a chance to change his heart — that is what chapters 3 and 4, our reading today, are about. As Jonah put it …
//Inspiration: Jonah 4:2
“I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.”
God “provided” (mentioned three times in chapter 4:6-8) an experience of loss for Jonah to make him confront his rebellious heart. God has used this last year to shake me to the core about some things in my attitude and my heart. These were hard things to experience. Some of the hurt remains. Yet in many ways, God “provided” these experiences to make me confront some things that were not right in my heart — things lurking there in the unexamined dark corners of my own thinking. Just as God delivered me on several occasions when my life has been threatened, God has also worked to deliver me from some of the stubborn and self-righteous darkness in my own heart. Such is a walk with God — sometimes it takes “a severe mercy” to make us confront our own prejudices, self-righteousness, and self-sufficiency. I’m guessing my storm may not be unique; maybe you’ve had experience with some things “the LORD God provided” you?
God, I have asked in the past that you humble me gently. In many ways, I think what felt harsh at the time of the experience was made gentler because your grace prevented them from being too hard to bear. Yet I confess that there are times that an old heart like mine needs a bit more breaking to get through it’s crusty exterior. As I stand on the door of another year, I ask that you mend what is broken, but continue to humble me gently in the areas that need to changed to make me more like you want me to be. In Jesus’ name. Amen.