- J.R.R. Tolkien
I read the book of Jonah last night (it's short) and every time I read it it doesn't settle well with me. I don't like how it ends. The story of the whale is a good story and I understand how it relates to my life when I run from God. But then he makes things right and goes to Nineveh and obeys God. Cool. But then there is the part where Jonah actually wants Nineveh to suffer for their sins and he lays in the shade of the plant and God says “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:10-11). I get what God is saying. But then the story ends. There is no turning for Jonah really or any sort of conclusion. It's just over.
And I'm left thinking that Jonah didn't ever... get it. I mean he obeyed what He asked him to do but then he kinda messes up again at the end. God asked Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach repentance and Jonah eventually did it but he still in his heart wanted to see them under the wrath of God. I think if I relate to any character in the Bible it's Jonah. So often I run from what God is asking me to do or impressing on my heart. Then there are many times when the conviction of disobeying weighs heavy on me. I don't often have to be inside the belly of a whale to feel it but it always comes. I eventually turn around and do what God was asking me to do in the first place. But I think, like Jonah, I never really get it. I never fully understand God's love for people or his grace for people. I never understand that he is trustworthy of my whole life and that when he asks me to do something... I need to do it. I wonder if Jonah probably ran from God again later in his life. I wouldn't be surprised. We fallen beings are so quick to judge, to think we know what is the best thing for God to do, we think we know ourselves and our abilities, we think we know what is best for us. But God is above it all and he sees the whole picture and he is probably doing the palm-face as we try to tell him what's up. And I hate that. I want to do so much good for God. I want to be obedient always and I want to trust him with my whole life. I think I have, sadly, learned that I will always fail. I mean I may obey him but I will never understand fully what God's will is and how much he loves the people I am called to share with. But I am so beyond jacked up. (To say it as someone I know always puts it).
I think that's kinda the point. I many times go to the Bible to see how I should live and how to do things the "right" way but then I'm left with people who are just like me and it frustrates me. But if the Bible was full of perfect responses and perfect people... There would be no need for the cross. So when I read books like Jonah I am thankful for the cross. I'm thankful for God's grace. I am thankful that my failures and faithlessness are met by Jesus' blood and faithfulness.