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Saturday, April 12, 2014

How to find the celebration {31 of 40 Stories}

"I am angry enough to die." These words take my breath away. Although you might imagine a child saying these words, in the midst of a tantrum, these particular words were spat by a man. A man, who when questioned by those getting to know him, identified himself as a Hebrew and a worshiper of the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land. A man who ran away from God.

Jonah.

A man with a narrow heart.

The Lord sent him to Nineveh to give the city a warning. When Jonah finally delivered the message, the city repented. They changed their ways. When God saw what they did and how they turned from the evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.

And Jonah was greatly displeased. He became angry and said, "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."

Wait a minute -- Jonah is mad because God showed mercy? As I read these lines, I picture a little kid on the play ground, thumbs in ears and fingers splayed, and chanting, I was right and you were wrong! I was right and you were wrong!

God lets him. He lets Jonah pout. Then at one point he sends a vine to offer shade for Jonah. That night a bug chewed through the vine and it started to die. It withered completely in the sun the following day.

Jonah wails, "I am angry enough to die."

This man whose identity lies in the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land, is angry and disgruntled and totally missing the celebrations.

He had comfortable shade for a day. All he sees in the shriveled vine the following day.

He was sent to save the important city of Nineveh. Without Jonah it would have been destroyed. All he sees is his wasted trip.

He was saved from the sea, protected by a fish, and then lived to tell about it. All he sees is the inconvenience of running from God.

It's interesting, however, that Jonah found celebration in the belly of the fish -- from the depths of the grave I called for help and you listened to my cry.

Yet in his ordinary life he completely misses the celebration.

I'm learning it is a  process of expanding the heart in order to find the celebration. When our hearts are narrow, it is difficult to find the celebration. It might be because we only have a tiny window through which we are working. As our hearts expand, we get a bigger view of the world. We begin to see through new eyes and we are able to find the celebrations.