I’ve Been Rejecting God’s Reality and Substituting My Own
I’ve often thought of myself as being able to relate to the Biblical character Job, but lately I find myself falling in line with Jonah.
A (not very) brief synopsis of the Book of Jonah:
God commissions Jonah to preach repentance from sin to the town of Nineveh (or else God will bring calamity upon the town). Jonah, an Israelite, hates the Ninevites who are enemies of Israelites. Jonah’s not really happy about this commission from God because He knows God won’t act ruthlessly against these people so he runs.
He flees. He does all he can to get away from God and the mission he’s been sent to do.
After causing grief in the lives of some sea men who are caught in a tempest, they throw him into the water where he gets swallowed up by a whale for three days and three nights. Jonah repents of his attempt to escape God and his mission and the whale vomits him out on to land.
Jonah, eager to get his mission over with, completes a three-day journey to Nineveh in one day. He walks into the city crying, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” From what readers can tell, Jonah does not elaborate on this statement; he only repeats that Nineveh’s doomed in 40 days.
And what Jonah expected to happen happens. The Ninevites repent and turn to the God of Israel, asking for forgiveness from their wicked ways.
How frustrating for Jonah. This turn of events makes God spare the lives of these people.
In the last chapter of the book, Jonah sits outside of the city waiting for what he knows will not happen: the destruction and complete annihilation of Nineveh. He rants at God angrily for having the following attributes:
- Being gracious
- Being merciful
- Being slow to anger
- Abounding in steadfast love
- Relenting from disaster
Jonah hates the fact that God extends these attributes to people he can’t stand and begs for death. God answers him and challenges him:
“Do you have good reason to be angry?”
At first, Jonah doesn’t answer. God leaves it alone.
Then the sun and scorching heat bear down on Jonah and God allows a plant to grow over him to give him some relief. This makes Jonah happy.
Then God allows a worm to kill the plant overnight, leaving Jonah back in the sun and heat again. Again, Jonah puts his life back on the table, begging to die. God calmly asks:
“Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?”
Jonah rages now: “Yeah, I got good reason to be angry. So angry I want to die!”
God declares checkmate against Jonah, challenging Jonah’s care of a dead plant that he did not labor to produce against God’s care for the people and animals of a big city that He created.
That’s the end of the chapter. No further response from Jonah. My supposition is that either Jonah was probably too pissed off to continue writing what occurred after or that Jonah was too embarrassed by his subsequent reaction that he didn’t record it. Perhaps God, in His loving compassion, didn’t require him to.
In the reading of this chapter, I discover that I am very much like Jonah. I run and flee from God. I don’t like the tasks He’s put before me and I’d rather do something else. And Tuesday night, I was angry—angry unto death.
Like Jonah, I need to accept what God’s mission is for me (job) rather than the mission I want to create for myself (motherhood). To quote Adam Savage from the hit TV show “Mythbusters,” I’ve been telling God:
“I reject your reality and substitute my own!”
It is clear in a variety of ways that God’s mission for me right now is to focus on my job. He is blessing in me in that realm through agent interest, independent contracting, further education, increased job responsibilities, and possibly a new position. I’ve been a complete fool to overlook the ways that God is blessing me in this area.
And while I’d love to become a mother, it’s clear that’s not what God wants for me right now. While it makes me sad and it’s okay for me to grieve over the death of this dream monthly, I need to press forward with the mission God has charged me with rather than trying to run away in an opposite direction, causing grief to those around me. Am as I happy about my mission as Jonah? Probably, since I’ve been hoping for my mission to come to fruition for a while. But I’ll try to accept where God has me and what He wants me to do before I become a mother (should that ever happen).
Okay, God, so here’s what I’ll try my best to do:
I reject my reality and substitute Your own.