Some months ago, I was having a no-good, very bad day. It was a Friday night, the week had been long, and my daughter and I had just wearily returned home from a too-long, too-loud school friend’s birthday party. We walked in the door and everything went downhill. I was snappish at my children, short with my spouse, and irritated with seemingly everything in my entire life.
In what can only be seen as evidence of God’s grace, the feeling in my soul was so irritable, so scratchy, that I knew the only relief would be God’s Word itself. So I went over to our couch, pulled out my Bible, and began to read. I found myself in the book Jonah. I read it all (not a huge feat; it’s pretty short). And as I finished chapter four, I felt all of the wind, heat, and building frustration seep out of me. Do you know why, church family?
Because in that book, I saw myself in Jonah. Jonah, who runs in the opposite direction of where God directs him. Jonah, who bitterly stands against the Ninevites even after God has poured out his compassion on them. Jonah, who declares he is “angry enough to die” (4:9). Jonah is a mess! He is so angry, so consumed by his own desires that he has completely missed, nay, flat out rejected, God’s weaving of a beautiful grace story.
In his book, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, author Paul David Tripp writes, “Why are we so good at turning moments of ministry into moments of anger? Why are we so adept at personalizing what is not personal?…we think of our lives as our own, and we are more committed to the purposes of our own kingdom than we are to God’s.”(p.106). This grieves me, because how true is this of you and I on a daily basis?
Yet, my friends, what beauty we find, because God still cares about Jonah’s heart! Jonah is a broken vessel to be sure – bitter and resentful even as he does God’s work. But we close the book with God prodding Jonah’s heart using the example of the vine. The Father loves him enough to not leave him where he is, stewing in his anger. What a beautiful example of grace!
My soul feels scratchy because I too am a Jonah. I am a sinner. And I need God. I need him because to be without him is to be lost, consumed in a kingdom of my own construct. I need him because to be with him is what I was created for. Oh friends, let us not lose sight of this. Let us not be swamped by our own agenda, but instead cling to Jesus.
“O God, you are my God,
Earnestly I seek you;
My soul thirsts for you,
My body longs for you,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.”
Yes, and Amen, church!
Erika Bourquz serves as the Director of Worship at GRC.