"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

9/29/08

Not Just A Fish Story - Hope in the Depths

I mess up.

A lot.

I lie. I covet. I scream at my kids. I avoid the tough stuff for the easy way out. I cut corners. I grumble. I steal (whether it's joy, time, or material things). I shy away from sharing my faith. I ignore my husband's leading.

I'm not much of a shining example of holiness, am I? I ought to be ashamed of myself. And, do you know what? I am.

When I do something wrong, I am naturally reluctant to tell others about it--other than, occasionally (like right now!) in a very general sense. I guess I have this fear of rejection from those I love--this irrational fear of people being mad at me.

It took my husband a good three days to learn I'd been in a fender bender last year. And no, I didn't finally fess up--he spotted the dent and asked about it. This was not a shining example of marital harmony on my part, was it?

And do you know what? Sometimes I do the same thing with God. I'm reluctant to confess my sins because of how stupid they are, or how ashamed I am of what I have done. Maybe, I think, God is tired of listening to me confess my willful disobedience to Him. Maybe, the evil one whispers in my ear, God won't listen to my prayers anymore. Maybe He won't forgive me, won't restore me. After all, he knows (better than I do!) that I'm just gonna mess up again.

Yet these are not God's ways. It is time for me to learn a lesson of faith and trust in the Lord. And you will never guess where I learned it from last week.

From Jonah, the son of Amittai. Yes, that Jonah. The Jonah who directly disobeyed God's call. The Jonah who was swallowed by a big fish, then puked out three days later. The Jonah who, even after that experience, would have preferred a plant live than the entire population of Ninevah.

I never would have thought, going into this study, that I would have learned a lesson in being a positive child of God from Jonah - unless it were by doing the OPPOSITE of this prophet. Yet, listen to this.
Jonah 2:4 I said, 'I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.'
And how about this?
Jonah 2:7 "When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, LORD,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
Despite messing up and receiving God's punishment (and despite the fact that, before this "assignment" was over, he would disappoint the Lord once again), Jonah had faith that God loved him, that he would again see the holy temple, and that He would hear the prophet's prayers. Now that's assurance. And, of course, he was right. Otherwise, the book of Jonah would have only been a couple chapters long.

Now this is a faith I can use--and one I need to grab onto, no matter how much I screw up. Confessing my sins is not going to make the Lord mad at me, nor will it decrease (or increase, for that matter) His love for me. All I need to do is remember the Lord, and my prayers will rise to Him.

So, no matter how much, or how badly, I mess up, God is there and ready to listen and pull me out of the muck and mire of my sin. And I didn't have to spend three days in a fish's belly to accept it.

Heavenly Father, thank You for teaching me an important lesson through a sinful child of Yours. Thank You for showing me that reaching You in prayer isn't only for the perfect, but for sinners, and repeat sinners, just like Jonah - and me. Help me to turn to you immediately when I sin, without worrying that you will not listen, or get mad at me. And Father, help me to do the same with the people you have put in my path. I love You so, Lord. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

(Oh, and "stay tuned" for my next Jonah lesson - and no, I have NO idea what it will be, but am sure there will be one! - coming soon to a blog near you:D)

10 comments:

  1. Thanks for being so real, as always! You are a dear (with no antlers!)

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  2. I love your gut honesty. It only makes ME LOVE YOU MORE. It is true of me too, and all of us, I'm sure. This is incredible insight and teaching. YOU need lead a Bible study on this or something, because God has given you a gift for teaching...of course, you already are--right here. Thank you!

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  3. Wow, great reminder here. Thanks for visiting my website and your kind comments regarding my testimony. The encouragement means a lot and I'm glad it then directed me to your blog. Great words here. Thanks for sharing so transparently.

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  4. Jo, your honesty touches me and inspires me to be as honest, too. I agree with Laura; your honesty makes me love ya all the more! Good stuff, Joanne.

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  5. This is so open and honest it's amazing and absolutely commendable.

    I am working on a children's story from the book of Jonah so it was very interesting to me the insight you gained from the book.

    Great job.

    Vickie

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  6. Great post! I'm so thankful for God's grace and mercy, which I need every day! Thank you for so honestly sharing your own struggles. It's hard to be holy while we are still in our fleshly bodies. I know I'm better than I used to be, but still have a way to go. Thanks for sharing your heart and insights here. Bless you!

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  7. Joanne,

    Thanks for sharing about yourself through this blog entry. You are so very talented and a blessing to many. You have been an inspiration to me.

    Love, Chrissy

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  8. I am loving this series, girlfriend! Your honesty has urged me to be more honest before my God and lay before Him things I see that need some fixing.

    I've always loved the book of Jonah. Something about him I so relate to. Independence maybe? Could that be it? ; )

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  9. Great blog. Joanne, you're and inspiration.

    Love, Chrissy

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  10. There are so many times I stick my head in the sand hoping that just cuz I can't see the mess that God can't either. Great lesson from Jonah--so often I get hung up on how he screwed up, yet when he turned around, he knew right where to go. And he points the way for us when we (I!!) finally turn around too.

    thanks, JoDear, for passing this on! Give Ann a hug for me!

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