Lately, I’ve been getting the feeling that God is smacking me upside the head, shouting, “Enough of the anger!” I don’t recall what I was reading that talked about a willing spirit and a contrite heart, but I wondered what, exactly, it meant and Googled it. One place had sermon notes that said a willing spirit “leads to a new creation, in its truest form, it is an eye test. We have to have our eyes opened to God’s perspective if we are ever to become a new creation.” Remember the eye bit for later. Contrite Heart was found, coincidentally enough, at thecontriteheart.org. It’s “a heart that is repentant, it is a heart that is broken.”
I played Bible roulette Wed night (flip and point at random, sometimes meaningful, sometimes not. Read surrounding verses for context!) and landed in Jonah. He’s told to go to Nineveh and tell people to repent. He doesn’t want to so he gets on a boat going the other way, stormy seas, “throw me over”, swallowed by a big fish, prayed, fish spits him out after 3 days, he goes to Nineveh, they repent, the end. NOT the end! Jonah is TICKED that God didn’t destroy those wicked, wicked people. “I KNEW you’d go and have mercy on them! That’s why I ran!” He goes and sits (sulks) outside the city to see if anything’s going to happen. Nada. Destruction STILL doesn’t happen. “WTH, God?!” (yeah, I’m paraphrasing). God made a leafy plant grow – its broad leaves shaded Jonah from the sun and Jonah was grateful for the plant. God also sent a worm that ate the plant – by the next morning, the plant was gone. Jonah got ticked. Again. God asks him, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?” Jonah thinks so. Verse 10-11… Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”
I can SO see myself in Jonah. Yes, I did tend Keith and yes, I did have a part in putting him here, BUT… Is it right for me to be angry? Is there a bigger picture that, perhaps, I’m not seeing?
Sometime in December or January, I had started to read the book of Job and, honestly, I got really confused around chapters 2 or 3. Recently, I read a few commentaries and a synopsis then tried again. This time, I’m humbled.
After losing everything (family, servants, livestock), Job’s response was: “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” (Job 1:21 NLT) (Aside: I’ve mentioned this verse before but wasn’t ready to speak the words for myself.) Even when Job is struck with boils, he handles it in stride. His wife tells him to ditch his integrity – curse God and die. He says, “You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” So in all this, Job said nothing wrong.” (Job 2:10 NLT)
It’s after his friends show up that things go downhill. They’re accusing him of sinning, he’s denying any fault and eventually ends up questioning God – claiming the wicked get away with everything while the poor suffer. In chapter 9, he all but calls God a big bully and puppet master, then apparently God’s had enough. In chapters 38-41, He lets him have it. “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.” “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” is just the beginning of a barrage of everything God does that we have absolutely no understanding of whatsoever. At the beginning of chapter 40, Job gets a chance to respond and he wisely says very little. And God continues on for two more chapters. At the end of it all, I can’t help but be as humbled as Job and I echo his response:
“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6 NIV, emphasis added)
So. Willing spirit? Yep. I’ve heard of Him but now I’ve seen Him. Contrite heart? Yep. Definitely sufficiently humbled. Does this mean all is well and I can skip away merrily? I wish. Grief is a process. This is one step along the way. Supposedly, it’s a step I may return to (“They” say that can happen with all the stages), but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.