Jonah strikes me as a guy who might have gotten punched in the face a few times over the course of his life. The short book that bears his name records that he fled from God when called to service, he hid his sin from those who were suffering from the consequences of his mistakes, he got angry at God for allowing his enemies to repent and for allowing his shade plant to wither, and he asked God to kill him because those frustrations made death more appealing to him than life. By the end of chapter four, Jonah seems to be the epitome of the title, “Jerk.” But when you do a bit of study, you learn that this book is likely autobiographical. In other words, Jonah is probably the author of this account. And, if that is true, than Jonah arguably highlighted his less than honorable characteristics for a purpose. So, what would make a man point out his flaws so transparently?
Is anger justified in you
Who sees your plans frustrated?
Who feels your life berated?
Whose choices are debated?
Do you do well to take the hue
Of anger in your manner?
Of squalor as your banner?
And rage against the Planner?
Are there no better fights to fight
That you should mourn the passing
Of selfishly amassing
These treasures unsurpassing?
Are you so blinded by the night
That fleeting follies fill you?
That Jesus does not imbue?
That you forget your rescue?
Shortly after I started leading Bible studies, I grew a strange desire to buy a sword. I knew of a little shop in a mall about an hour away from the university that sold all manner of blades, so, one day, when I had sufficient funds, I made the trek and purchased an epic battle sword. Sadly, it wasn’t sharpened (which is probably for the best), but it still fit the bill: full scale, heavy metal, and awesome. Between this and another sword I was given in college, I felt much more prepared for war, though I wasn’t swinging either blade against the enemy.
How can I comfort those who mourn
Unless I learn to mourn myself?
For fellowship with those forlorn,
I must be taken from the shelf.
For there I sat so safe and calm,
But there I also gathered dust.
If this, my life, would be a balm,
Then I must learn that God is just
Not just in times of peace and rest,
But in my sorrow, sickness, strife.
If I would follow heaven’s best,
I will not have an easy life.
But through my broken heart, he speaks,
And through my suff’ring, Christ is seen.
If soon, with death, my body reeks,
My soul, by grace through faith, is clean.
So why would I avoid the pain
If, through the turmoil, faith is grown?
The struggle leads to priceless gain
As man’s despair is overthrown.
All things do work together for
The good of those He called in love,
And though we walk the road of war,
God reigns in sov’reignty above.
Sometimes – nay, often – man has absolutely no idea of what God is doing. And I’m beginning to understand that the tension brought upon our faith by our ignorance of God’s plan is, in some cases, the best place for us to be as we seek to know him better.
I feel temptation’s throes around me now.
My heart is being beaten by the brute.
This flesh would see me finished with my vow.
Cry vengeance, God, and cut it at the root.
Too long have I now struggled just to breathe.
Too long have I imagined life is jest.
The holy Sword of God I must unsheathe,
And drive the blade into my very chest.
Cut out the heart of stone, O Lord of hosts,
And bring the dead to life by sacrifice,
For Christ has come to walk among the ghosts.
He paid with his own blood the ransom price.
O resurrected Warrior of light,
Raise me now up to worship and to fight.
I was able to attend part of a men’s conference last weekend in central Louisiana. Though I didn’t get to stay for the entire event, I was reminded of God’s sovereignty and care in that short span of time, and I left a little more in love with Jesus than when I arrived.
I serve a God who speaks-
Who speaks for me to hear.
And though his Word means life and love,
I rarely lend my ear.
Yet still he calls me as his own.
He grants me access ‘fore his throne.
Such love and grace to sinners shown!
Oh help me, Lord, to listen.
The world in wailing wreaks-
Wreaks havoc with its cries.
Though tinged with tones of great delight,
They only offer lies.
For underneath the white-washed skin
The dying soul cries out in sin,
And wonders, could it live again?
Oh help me, Lord, to listen.
I, therefore, need to pray-
To pray to hear his voice,
The whisper in the wilderness,
To make the holy choice.
For Christ has died in my own place
And given me a son’s embrace.
Oh let me look upon his face!
And help me, Lord, to listen!
Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash
What do you do when you realize that your love for God is sub-par at best? How do you respond when you feel like you’ve forgotten how to pray? What steps do you take when you recognize a deficiency in your walk with the Lord, but you don’t know how to fix the problem?