i am the moon with no light of my own / still You have made me to shine
and as i glow in this cold dark night / i know i can't be a light unless i turn my face to You
- sara groves, "You are the sun"

Friday, March 21, 2014

the beauty of defiance (part 1)

we all know the story of jonah. at least, we know the part about the rebel who runs away from the Word of the Lord, only to be chased by a raging storm and put in time out inside a fish until he repents. i can see in my mind's eye the mural in one of our church's classrooms now: jonah, sitting on a stool in his robe and sandals, beard perfectly combed, in a spacious cavern of a belly, with a ray of light shining down on him through the blow hole above, looking quite content to wait out his three days and three nights in his piscatorial accommodations.

suffice it to say, we've missed something.

there are many places we could take this text, but the Lord led me to a very specific point this week:

He is Sovereign even up to *and including* our defiance.

we all know about jonah's defiance. it's his escape to tarshish that got him into the pickle in the first place. did you know that a contradictory conjunction ("but", "instead", "yet") appears eight times in the first two chapters of the niv translation of this book? the first two "but"s refer to jonah's escape (Jonah 1:3) and then his slumbering below deck (Jonah 1:5) when the storm besets the boat. i never realized before that jonah's running away didn't stop when he set sail; he retreats below deck and only engages with the sailors when they come seek him out. and then, he only speaks to them when the lot falls on him and they ask him questions, and he only comes through with the solution when the sailors ask him what they should do. talk about waiting for someone to force your hand, jonah. why didn't you fess up when they woke you and asked you to pray to your god? or when the lot fell on you? or when you claimed to worship the Lord who made the sea? or even come up with the solution yourself before they asked you to?

and yet…

this is me. all the time. waiting for God to force my hand, putting things off until i can no longer get away with it, potentially even missing opportunities because of my defiance. giving God my "but"s instead of my trust and my heart.

the good news is that God is Sovereign even over all of that.

did you ever notice that God does not get angry with jonah? He got angry with moses (Exodus 4:14), so it's not like it was out of the question. some may say that the storm represented God's anger, and i'm sure scholars have written material on the subject that i haven't had time to research. but i would suggest that no, that storm was not God's anger, but rather His Love, Patience, Grace, and Sovereignty. i'm betting that the Lord Almighty knew that the only way to get jonah's attention was to shake things up a bit and patiently pursue him until he was willing to listen. He could have done away with jonah, or turned His attention to someone else to accomplish His will. heck, He could have lifted jonah up and put him smack in the middle of nineveh and told him to "do My will or else". but no -- that's not the God we serve.

because, as amanda points out in her beautifully crafted post, this story is mostly about God -- and our God is Unchanging, Unshakable, and Sovereign. which means the God of the new testament, who demonstrates great mercy and kindness by rescuing a sinful woman from stoning (John 8:2-11), healing on the one day that was culturally off-limits (Luke 13:10-17), and telling us of the rejoicing in heaven over the return of the lost (Luke 15:1-32) -- this is the same God as the God of jonah.

this is the same God who must know we are going to sin every single time we do it. and, i am convinced, He is also a God who *uses that sin* to accomplish the very purpose He intended from the beginning.

Sovereign including our defiance.

come back tomorrow to find out the beautiful good news wrapped up in this story -- it's a doozy, i promise you…


this post is part of an experiment called #SheSharesTruth from shereadstruth.com. many brilliant women have contributed their own learnings from these same two chapters -- won't you check out some of their posts too?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your post, I hadn't really thought about how Honah didn't make any decisions or offer advice until he was forced but it's so true. Sadly it is so true for me too! Thank you


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