Quail the Second dragged her exhausted self into my kitchen this morning while I was warming up apple cider on the stove and declared, with a sobering degree of gravity, that she was suffering from Skittle Face.
This gave me pause. It sounds both delightful and painful, depending on the particulars, no? During our birthday spree over the weekend, a family size bag of tropical Skittles (the kind that have the pink Skittles, which I believe are the only ones really worth eating, though in a handful, purple can sometimes be used as filler) was passed around the vehicle, leaving us with colorful tongues, a sugar high, and apparently, a few lingering cases of the badly understood epidemic, Skittle Face.
As I understand it, eating large quantities of that chewy, fantastically processed delicacy can lead to a withering soreness of the jaw for days following the binge. Now, a less sensitive mother might have said something like, then why did you do it? Why not veer towards some soft, meltable, artificially flavored chocolate instead? But I know the answer:
Because the Skittles taste AWESOME.
I am studying Jonah right now. Actually, writing here to all y’all has been part of what has nudged me on to write women’s Bible studies, which is terrifying and wonderful and not what this post is about. But as I have been reading and praying and researching, something different struck me about Jonah’s wild ride, something I never thought about before.
We all know Jonah biffed it. Said heck no to the Almighty (foolish), hopped a boat to sail off into the sunset the opposite direction (seriously foolish), and ended up fish food. But before that, God gave him instructions. He was to leave everyone and everything he knew and go teach a people who hated God.
We know he ended up in a kind of aloneness that was unfathomably alone (little ocean humor there… fathoms…) — he got a taste of what Christ experienced in full on the cross. He was alone from God. But had he obeyed and gone to Ninevah the first time, he would have been another kind of alone. It was a lonely calling.
Obedience meant loneliness. Disobedience meant despair.
Just because you are alone doesn’t mean you aren’t in the right place.
I have been rolling this over in my thoughts, over and over, like a really stale handful of Skittles. Sometimes God’s deepest blessings come encased in the intimidating shell of hard providences. And you are supposed to chew, to refuse to let up until He makes the blessing known. The blessing could be your obedience. Think upon the hard providences you face this day — if you quit (hard marriage? Kids requiring constant attention, and managing to be disobedient anyway? Friendless season? Body that is your own personal tormentor? Misunderstood? Lied about?), you will never experience the joy He has stored up for you, the sweet fellowship of His constant presence, the joy of His Comforter with you in all things.
But make no mistake. This chewing will leave you sore. Your face may ache before this is done… truthfully, it may not stop aching until glory. See the difference though — you could opt out of the trial at hand, look for a softer, easier situation, pull a Jonah and start looking for the exit signs, the escape routes. And sure, you might dodge some soreness in the short term. But friend, this ends badly. Fish market badly. The thing you are in the thick of may be hard and painful, you may be crying out with the psalmist:
“My soul is among the lions; I lie among the sons of men who are set on fire…” (Psalm 57)
But lions with God is a triumph. Fish bellies apart from God is hell.
Eyes up. Your salvation is coming. What is nothing but pain and soreness today will explode in color on your tongue if you do not give up, do not let go. Happy chewing.