I Want to Obey

Last week there was a discussion about forgiveness.  Forgiveness is done not for the other person, but for yourself.  That is something I have heard and experienced a few times in my life; however, last week there was a conversation that really stuck with me.  Forgiveness is about your relationship with God and ultimately it is between you and him.  That is something I hadn’t really considered.  We are called to forgive.  Therefore whether I forgive will ultimately effect my relationship with Christ.

This is the other thing that stuck:  You may not have it in you to forgive.  You literally may not have the feelings necessary to forgive.  You literally don’t feeling like doing it. That gave me so much freedom.

This is a journey that is between me and God, which means I am able to be honest and say “I don’t have it in me.”  I can tell God, “I don’t feel like forgiving.  I literally cannot feel what it takes.”  I can come broken.  I can come stubborn.  I can come honest.  I can come repenting and begging for help and every time he welcomes me back.

Tonight I am struggling with anger.  Anytime there is conflict and injustice the rage comes streaming back.  Anytime I see my sisters fighting to feel love and acceptance from our own mother I am sickened.

I am taking time to blog and open up to God via this little slot on the internet so I am able to process some of my anger and know that forgiveness is something that is between him and I.  I don’ have what it takes to forgive tonight, but I do have the desire to obey and build a stronger relationship with him.

So I think in this moment, it begins with honesty.  I want to obey.  I want this ache in my chest to go away.  The anger I feel is only killing me.  I don’t want to forgive, but I want to obey.

It begins with honesty.

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Have You Any Right to be Angry?

Jonah 4-4So, how about you?–Do you have any right to be angry? Let me explain a little further. Most everyone knows the story of Jonah and the whale. Jonah was called by God to go to Nineveh and Jonah was like “I don’t think sooo!” and he hops a boat to Tarshish. There is a giant storm that causes sheer panic to set in around the boat. Eventually the men on the boat figure out the storm is caused by Jonah’s disobedience to God, so first they try to row back to shore and drop Jonah off, but the storm gets worse and they are forced to throw him overboard. A big fish (whale) comes and swallows Jonah. Jonah prays in the belly of the whale and 3 days later God causes the fish to vomit him to dry land. THEN Jonah decides he should probably do what God called him to do.

I know I already talked about Gideon in another post, but isn’t it kind of funny that each person who is called in the bible has a different, yet similar reaction to being called. *-PANIC!-* Like Gideon didn’t even believe an angel coming to him, and required constant reassurance. Jonah just flat out took the flight option out of his panic. He was like “Catch ya later God!–I’m totally freaked.”

ANYWAY

Guys. I totally thought the story stopped there. Somewhere in my childhood, somewhere perhaps between nursery class and junior church, chapter 4 was omitted. The chapter where Jonah is mad at God for saving the city of Nineveh. He is MAD that God sent him to the city of Nineveh to preach their doom and that when God saw the people turn from their wicked ways he decided to spare them. He was mad! Mad enough he wanted to die. (*cue the drama* Jonah is a tad dramatic boys and girls.)

I think this is an especially important point to be made. How many times have you been called by God to do something, minister to someone, do a specific job, then the outcome isn’t what you expected and then you’re kind of (or down right) MAD. We are called and whether we admit it or not, we kind of romanticize what the outcome will be.

Ok, Jesus I will totally go and tell all of these people about You and they will come to church and they will give their lives to you and they will bow down and proclaim you as King and then they will go and they will build a church somewhere and bring tons of other people to you and it’s going to be this big wonderful EXTRAVAGANT thing all because you called me to tell them about you.

Uh. Hold on just a second. Who gives us the authority to determine the outcome? And then do we have any right to be angry when the outcome isn’t what we expected it to be?

Here’s what happens with Jonah:

“O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah 4:1-4  (A little dramatic, don’t you think? Goodness Jonah, pull yourself together man!!)

And that’s when God says to him: “Have you any right to be angry?”

God uses another circumstance to teach Jonah a lesson. Jonah leaves the city and makes himself a shelter to wait and see what happens to the city. While he is there God makes a vine grow to provide some shade for Jonah and protect him from the heat. He is SERIOUSLY excited about it. Then, when morning comes, God makes a worm eat the vine and it kills it. Jonah is BEYOND upset. (You guys, he wants to die again. I mean, really.) God asked him again “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?” Jonah 4:9

AND GET THIS (I mean, seriously Jonah…you’re a little dramatic brother.) He says, “I do. I am angry enough to die.” I just get this vision of a small child reasoning with a parent. I know this behavior may seem just as ridiculous to you, but how many of us…how many times have YOU or I acted this way with God? Like a whining child. As soon as something doesn’t happen precisely the way we intended, we are ready to “die” or to give up, or throw in the towel.

So God gives Jonah, and in the process ME, a little wake up call. He says this:

“You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and it died overnight. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?” Jonah 4:10-11.

                                          –>Are we angry about something that we didn’t tend or make grow?
                                          –>Are we angry about the outcome of something God has called us to do?
                                          –>”Have you any right to be angry?”

I’ll leave you with this. A couple weeks ago Roman had an issue at work and I told him “You have every RIGHT to be angry.” His response to me was “No, I have every REASON to be angry, but I have no RIGHT.”

Take a few minutes today to consider the things that cause you anger. Then consider the thought

Have you any right to be angry?