The Trouble With Jonah


Ok, so…you may have noticed that I did not make any effort to mention Mother’s Day in any way recently.  That’s because I have an unnatural aversion to the holiday.  Unlike with Father’s Day where I could pull together familial references to create an image of what might have been, I don’t have to wonder with my women folk.  While I can count the positive matriarchal references in my family on one hand, I have LOTS of negative ones.  The killing part is they are some of my most immediate kin.  There are visions I can scarce escape of indentured and unappreciated servitude, prophetic words of encouragement coupled with justified reasons why I will never see those prophecies come to pass, tools and tricks of their power wielded equally against those most loved and loathed.  I have been victorious over such influence, by the Gracious hand of God. But the second Sunday in May is the one day where their presence still overwhelms me. I’m always so grateful to be on the other side of it.

This particular holiday was further complicated by an intrusive call by one of those women.  There was a message left on my pastor’s phone.  It made sense, as there is no other way for her to contact me (good fences make good neighbors)…I still didn’t appreciate it.  The timing, however, was questionable at best. Wanting nothing more than to find out why it was so imperative that I be contacted, I returned the call as soon as possible. While ascertaining that there was absolutely NO real purpose for communication, the call lasted all of about 45 seconds.  I spent the better part of the afternoon seething.  That is, until I got home from church where I had waiting for me a pot of home-made chili that was accompanied by an extra large chocolate ice cream float.(Did I tell you how FANTASTIC my sons are?)  I went to bed as soon as I was able.

Spending an entire day under the influence of 150 proof rage leaves one with a MASSIVE hangover! I woke up Monday desperate to go back to bed, knowing that it was not an option.

This is why I LOVE working at a ministry like PASS network for life!  I got compassion and friendship from women that get God and get me.  I got unsolicited words of kindness and kinship from men in that same frame of mind.  It was better than aspirin or any other hangover remedy. Somewhere in the middle of my 12 hour day, I realize…I’m okay. I actually had a FUN day at work that ended with a few answered prayers and everything.

Still, it wasn’t until Tuesday that I got my resolution; the consolation and challenge that gave me rest that I will take with me from this Mother’s Day into every holiday or challenging ‘relative’ encounter from this day forward.

The nice thing about looking for God everywhere is you’re not surprised when He shows up…you’re just tickled.

God showed up on Tuesday in the form of a volunteer-in-training by the name of Mary.  Sweetest young lady you ever want to meet! And it wasn’t anything she said that day.  It was her presence that reminded me of a conversation we were having a week before.

We were manning the phones at the front desk, talking about something… (What I love about people with whom I enjoy chatting…we talk in random and varied trains of thought.  Nobody gets offended if the other goes off and jumps a track.  If we get back to the original conversation, it’s cool.  If we don’t, that’s cool, too!) and for some reason, we got on the subject of a bible study she had just been a part of.

Mary sits back in her chair and announces in this matter-of-fact voice, “You know, the trouble with Jonah is that Jonah thought the story of Jonah was all about Jonah.”

I fell out laughing.

That was something that had never occurred to me!  The thing that infuriated Jonah about the prophetic assignment he had been given is that He KNEW God’s intention was to correct and forgive the people of Nineveh. Jonah wanted Nineveh to FRY.  And when they didn’t, he got so hacked off (Pastor Andrew J. Willis, I borrowed your phrase) at God that he threw one temper tantrum after another. God still didn’t let Him off the hook. He even gave Jonah shade, so he wouldn’t stroke out while he was acting like a new fool. Even THEN the point was not about Jonah!  To the very last chapter of HIS book, He was merely a force, NOT A FACTOR!!!

So, that is how I shall perceive the women in my immediate family (along with a few other people), from this point on.  They were merely a force, a catalyst if you will, to push me to a place where God would get the glory and enable me to make a difference in the lives of many others. And I will not become like Jonah and demand some sense of justice or vengeance for self-satisfaction.  They are God’s children, just like me.  My fences are secure…they cannot cross them without my permission.  IT’S NOT ABOUT ME, ANYWAY! Whatever God does to them or for them is His business.  I’m gonna bless Him by blessing them (from a safe distance) and move on with my life.

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  1. Trackback: Rest, Revisited | Kaleidoscope Perspectives

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