Sometimes, it’s hard to read the Bible. No, not because we don’t have time or because it’s hard to understand – the number of translations, bible apps and online tools out there have eliminated those excuses like a trailer park in a tornado. I mean sometimes, it’s like watching a car crash – you know it’s coming, you know it’s going to be bad, but you can’t do anything to stop it.
Take Jonah, for example. His job was easy – deliver a specific message to a specific people at a specific time. Oh, and God says “I want this in my inbox by Monday”. Jonah doesn’t just balk, he walks. God told him to leave Atlanta and head to NYC, but he hops a ride to Vegas – Jonah, what the dilly?! You know Jonah can’t outrun God, right?
I Hate Slasher Movies Because of the Dumb “Victims”
Do you stare at those pages like you do at the girl in the Friday the 13th movies who could have grabbed the gun but grabs the flashlight, could have run down the road, but hides under the bed and scream – “Nooooo! Jonah! Don’t go that way! He’s gonna get you!!!”
Jonah’s story turns when he sleeps with the fish. What’s it like to be catching some z’s on rough seas one minute, in a calm ocean the next, and moments later everything goes dark, warm, and slimy on you?
Let’s go further back – I’m reading about Moses and Pharaoh. “Moe” goes to his adoptive Dad, Pharaoh – “Pops, it ain’t right. You gotta lay off me and a million of my people and let us go.” But, God had already hardened Pharaoh’s heart. It’s not going to go well for him. But, still, don’t you kind of root for Pharaoh and yell at your bible – “Just humble yourself, Akhen-amon-ramses-guy! You’re out of your league. You can’t kill Superman with bullets! It’s a losing battle!!!”
Worse, look at Exodus 8:9. Bring a Frog to Work/School/Castle Day. Moses has been given chance number 3 to bow down before the one, true, living God and pray for his nation and instead of saying “Ok, son. You’ve never done me wrong and the blood from the Nile trick has stained all of our laundry. I’ll pray to your God right now, for repentance and some All-Temperature-Cheer.”
Instead… Car crash. After Moe gives him a chance to pick the time that he prays to God on Pharaoh’s behalf, Tuten-nuttin tells Moses something that brings us back to the Friday the 13th factor: “Tomorrow.”
What?! Wait ’til tomorrow?! Pharaoh – I don’t think you’re following the story. In my bible it says the frogs “will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed…” Really?! You’re that proud that you’d rather go home tonight and sleep in a bed of frogs, regroup, and hope that you get some inspiring dream that will make this go away your way instead of God’s way?!”
Pride. Is… Ugly.
But, heck, his linens were already Freddy Kruger red, what’s a little squished frog juice going to matter…
Sometimes, we get into places where our pride gets the best of us. It has us sleeping in dark, unfamiliar places with uncomfortable clutter all around us. I know. Last night my wife and I got into a… dispute… with each other and I failed miserably to not “let the sun go down on [my] anger”. Why? Pride. Just like Pharaoh. Just like Jonah. So, I slept with my junk and woke up feeling funk.
Jonah was a prophet with a tough message to give to tough people. You’ll probably never be called into a country that routinely kills prophets and be commissioned by God to deliver a message they don’t want to hear. Pharaoh was under the heart hardening spirit put on him by the Creator of all that is seen and unseen – he didn’t stand a chance.
But, you and I do.
How sincerely can we walk today in humility and surrender to God, even when what He’s asking us to do seems like a no-win face-off with Jason Voorhees’s machete vs. us with a flashlight? How committed are we to the ministry of reconciliation and obedience to the God who has redeemed us?
If we are truly surrendered to the Father of Christ, we can at any moment dump our junk at the foot of the cross, leave our pride by the roadside, and refuse to sleep with the fish, with the frogs, with the funky junky heart.
This stuff isn’t in the bible so the kids will have something fun to color on Sundays while you’re at church. It’s there because God wants us to learn from greater people with greater missions than ours and because He… loves… us.