Have you ever made anything? Cookies? Playdoh creations? LEGO buildings? A book? A song? A journal entry? When you are the maker of something, you have control. I can leave something out of a recipe or add to it. It's up to me. Because I'm in charge. Here's the thing about God though... Yes, He is in charge. Yes, He made us. BUT He also gave us the ability to think and choose for ourselves. What if your LEGOs could think for themselves? If you had that one piece that kept jumping off of your building because it just didn't want to be there? Not only would that be strange and kind of scary, it would also be frustrating. If that happened to me, my first instinct would be to just pick up that stubborn piece and fling it across the room (where I would undoubtedly find it with my foot in the dark at a later time). If it doesn't want to be used, then fine. I won't use it.
HOORAY! Good news for us! He loves us so much that He just keeps trying. He doesn't give up and fling us across the room. Sometimes we miss out on things and He does use other pieces/people to accomplish His will, but He never ever gives up. He wants us.
Look at Jonah.
God told Jonah to go to Nineveh. He wasn't vague. He said "Arise, go to Nineveh..." (Jonah 1:2). Plain and simple. What does Jonah do? Verse 3: "But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord..." Tarshish isn't Nineveh. Jonah heard the voice of the Lord, but he blatantly disobeyed and did something else. But God was persistent. (haha. understatement?) The ship Jonah got on to go to Tarshish faced a massive storm. The crew figured out Jonah was running from God and causing the storm. Jonah knew it too, so he had the crew throw him overboard. Once Jonah was in the water, the storm stopped. This caused the other men on the ship to fear Jonah's God, and they made sacrifices and vows to the Lord. God used Jonah's stubbornness to draw people to Himself. I love that. If you don't know the rest of the story, don't worry. Jonah didn't drown. He was swallowed by a fish that the Lord appointed. :) Verse 17: "And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." While Jonah was inside the fish, he gave up and prayed. He gave up his pride and stubbornness and decided to do what the Lord had originally said. "And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land." (Jonah 2:10) Chapter 3 starts out like this: "Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh..." Verse 3 says: "So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord." Looks like Jonah learned his lesson. Jonah didn't get everything right after that. He still struggled. But he went to Nineveh and did what the Lord told him to do there. And the people in Nineveh repented. Mission accomplished. The book of Jonah could have been 2 chapters long instead of 4 if Jonah had just listened in the first place. But this way, we have a great story of God's power and persistence. God never gave up on Jonah. Jonah ran away from Him. God could've said "Okay. I'll use someone else." But He didn't. He wanted to use Jonah to reach Nineveh, and He wanted to use Nineveh to reach Jonah. So He used a storm and a very large fish to get Jonah's attention.
What is God telling you to do today? Where's your Nineveh? Maybe it's not a physical place. Maybe it's just a place of deeper intimacy with God. No matter how close we are to the Lord, we can always get closer. That's God's desire. I pray that it is mine too. Maybe you're in the middle of the storm or in the middle of the fish. Either way, don't you think it's time to let go of our pride and just do what God says? I do.
I'm laying down my something. I want to trust God with it because I know that He can do greater things with it than I ever could. I don't want my mediocre plans. I want what God has for me. He made me. He knows what's best. I don't want to pick my something back up again. I need your help. If you see me or talk to me, just say "Don't pick it up." "Leave it." "Let God handle it." Anything like that will work. And pray for me? Please. I cannot do this alone. I need the strength of Jesus and community to help me leave it alone. Will you help me?
Today at (in)courage, one of the writers quoted a song. She was talking about something completely different and focused on one line, but a different line resonated with me. Maybe you need one of these lines too.
Here are the lyrics:
At the foot of the cross("At the Foot of the Cross", Tammy Trent)
Where grace and suffering meet
You have shown me Your love
Through the judgment You received
And You’ve won my heart
Yes You’ve won my heart
Now I can
Trade these ashes in for beauty
And wear forgiveness like a crown
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down
At the foot of the cross