Is anyone else out there as hard headed as I am? Recently, I've realized that I have been so hard headed that I've been thinking that I'm not hard headed for a good couple of years. Can anyone give me an amen? Anyway, Praise to our merciful Savior for breaking through to me the other day.
Around last September or October I began doing a Bible study written by Priscella Shirer called "Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted". Many of us have heard the Sunday school rendition of this "whale of a tale" for many years. Actually studying the book seriously proved to be much more intense and than I could have imagined. I'd even say it was deeper than the blue sea, if you know what I mean.
Well much of the study focused on viewing life's interruptions as divine interventions. The whole time I was doing the Bible study I really thought that God's calling for Alex and I to go on a long-term mission trip after we are married was my interruption and that I was being really great because I am happy to do it (unlike our dear Jonah).
Coming back after Christmas break, I had just one short week left of the study. After coming back from break I began having a weird attitude about engage groups. I'll be totally honest. I have really been mourning my old home group. They have been my family for a year and a half. I've never had a community that I trusted and loved so intensely. I didn't anticipate being so sad, but once a week or two went by without home group I got really sad. The kind of sad where you hear a special song that reminds you of the sad thing and it's all you can do not to wreak the car because your eyes are filled with tears kind of sad. Perhaps I'm the only weirdo who does that ;-)
So one innocent morning before work I opened up my Jonah study to the very last day. You may not remember that the book of Jonah doesn't end with Jonah frolicking in a bed of roses. It ends with him mourning the loss of a dying plant that he didn't even plant and being downright angry at God about it.
If you're not making the connections, let me spell it out for you. I had been acting like Jonah. It slapped me in the face with the weight of ten cinder blocks. I was mourning the loss of my own home group that I didn't even make great. God had grown Pendulum and made it great. Candice didn't. Now I was moping around because this running group wasn't at the same level as my old group.
It all became clear. This running group is my divine intervention and runners are my Nineveh. It's not me who is going to make any of this good or bear fruit; it is Him and Him alone. Otherwise at the end of the semester I'm going to be sitting under a little dying branch. On page 147 Shirer writes, "Jonah found himself face to face with the reality of God's perspective: Jonah care about a plant. God cared about people". Friends, you could have subbed in Candice for Jonah in that sentence.
Since that time, I can't say that I have been a total saint about the situation, but I have been so inspired by that morning in God's word that I am convinced we are not laboring in vain. God's grace is carrying me through this process and I know that that he who began a good work in you (or this group) will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6b).
What more is there to say? Praise be to God! Maker of Heave and earth!