We all know the the story of Jonah. We chuckle, we might find Jonah even endearing. We might marvel how God caught this runaway and especially how Jonah moved from being prayerless to praise-filled in the belly of the whale. Jonah experienced first-hand God’s mercy right then and there, probably for the first time in his life. Jonah knew God, we might even say that he had a relationship with God. But yet he was a stranger to grace. Suddenly we don’t want to associate with Jonah anymore. I am not Jonah, am I?
Yet we want to keep God in a box like Jonah did. We are happy to perform some religious acts and have a life insurance via Jesus. But we don’t want to be truly embraced by grace. We don’t want to surrender to grace. We don’t want our lives altered by grace. Just like Jonah we rather keep grace at arm’s length. And because we are as unjust as Jonah we don’t want to extend God’s mercies to strangers.
But Jonah thought this was utterly wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Come on, Lord! Wasn’t this precisely my point when I was back in my own land? This is why I fled to Tarshish earlier! I know that you are a merciful and compassionate God, very patient, full of faithful love, and willing not to destroy. At this point, Lord, you as well take my life from me, because it would be better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:1-3, CEB, emphasis added)
Jonah had only – like Job- heard of God. He did not intimately know God and his ways. Jonah knew God was merciful, compassionate, and just. But Jonah did not want God to be God.
Jonah was angry because God was not doing what Jonah thought as just. Jonah was angry because God was not behaving the way Jonah approved. Jonah was angry because his career as a prophet was destroyed (the people of Niniveh listened and repented and God showed them mercy instead of the wrath Jonah had proclaimed).
Am I angry at God because he is not behaving the way I approve?
Am I trying to keep God in a box?
Am I (un)just like Jonah?
Yes. Guilty as charged.
I am (un)just like Jonah. God, have mercy!
I do have my own agenda for God. Lord, have mercy!
I do restrict God’s wild grace. Holy Spirit, have mercy!
The most hope-filled thing of the book of Jonah is that it ends somewhat abruptly. We don’t know how Jonah will respond to God. Jonah still has a chance to be changed by grace. Hence I do wonder how the next chapter turned out in Jonah’s life. And in my life.
Because – just like Jonah – we have a change to be changed by grace. We can, too, be moved from prayerlessness to praisefilledness. We can – by God’s grace – learn to intimately know the extravagant dimensions of God’s love. And share them generously with others.
Because God’s plans are much bigger than anything we can imagine. God’s ways are better than anything we could ever think of. The good news is: God’s story is ready to enter into our lives. We just need to let grace write the next chapters in our lives.
Forgive us being angry at you.
Forgive us restricting you in any way.
Change us with your grace!
May we be more like you!
May your will happen in/through our lives.
In Jesus’ name,
Q4U: Have you been angry at God for being God?
Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace God as He is!
Giving thanks today for
#451 time to repent
#452 grace changing us
#453 change is possible
#454 God is merciful and just
#455 God does not fit in a box
#456 God’s plans are bigger and better than ours
#457 hope is reality in God
#458 there’s no end for God’s love
#459 there’s no end for God’s grace
#460 tomorrow is hope-filled in Christ Jesus
Image courtesy of Aaron Justin. Linking up today with Linking up today with What’s on Your Heart Tuesdays and One Word at a Time: Justice Blog Carnival, Wordfilled Wednesday , God-Bumps & God-Incidences and