I actually did have a post I was working on yesterday. No, scratch that, one I started on Monday (check me all not waiting til the last minute!). And it maybe possibly wasn’t even terrible, which I thought for a Tuesday after starting back to school was a lot more than could have been said. I intended a sort of tribute to grandparents, since we are leaving today to travel for my grandfather’s funeral and that seemed fitting (although in reality, I think I have developed the yips about telling family stories, because without fail, every time I think I am recounting a memory that is both sweet and reliable, I am later informed that I had an important detail wrong. Oops), but my mind refuses to comply with its own original idea. So here we are. I was not stuck in a freezer or anything yesterday; my idea just went kaploof.
And maybe instead of succumbing to self-loathing over my lack of creativity/diligence/stick-to-it-iveness I should accept it as God steering this little piece of blither in a different direction. That sounds easier than self-loathing, which I think requires a heck of a lot of comfort eating and I don’t really have anything in the house right now that I want to comfort eat. Actually, I am not very good at comfort eating. I have often thought that I would probably have more gleeful moments amidst my God-ordained trials if I could develop a really hearty and unflappable Oreo habit, where I down a package in one sitting and am consequently distracted from whatever battle I am in.
Ok, fine, that doesn’t sound noble when you say it out loud, but try rolling it around quietly in your thoughts. It has a certain appeal, right?
I’ve been thinking about battles lately. Battles, obediences, weariness… disobedience. First, I was reading St. George and the Dragon to the younger Quail and was struck that good ol’ George is given tremendous amounts of credit for his resilience and bravery and nobility… but he breaks. Not once, but twice. He is fearless and attacks the dragon he was sent to fight, yet he also depends on the prayers of Una, on the apparently magical dew from the grass and then later from some drippy apples. Did you catch that? That he broke didn’t mean he wasn’t brave.
Which leads me to Jonah. The Anti-George, if you will. Or at least, that’s how I always understood him from the flannel graphs in Sunday School. Last night, my first online Bible study started in on Jonah and the epiphanies were flying (ironically, for them and me, and I wrote the study. This makes me uneasy, but there you have it. No secrets here…). We easily could have spent an entire hour on the first handful of verses, and while I tempted to over-expound to you here, you should probably just join my Bible study instead (seriously though. email@example.com — let’s do this!).
But if it is true (and the consensus definitely leans this way, from what I have read) that Jonah himself wrote the book of Jonah, then it was providentially important for him to mention twice within the first 5 verses that he “fled the presence of the Lord”. Honestly, I have always read this story and thought Jonah was kind of a derp — what kind of nabob thinks he can outrun the Almighty, on the ocean He made, no less?? But I think the truth goes beyond that. Jonah was one of the young prophets trained by Elijah himself. Jonah knew the Lord. And his heart was escaping obedience long before his money changed hands in exchange for a ticket, long before his feet stepped aboard the ship. He fled from the presence of the Lord.
I promise. These connect.
Had Jonah obeyed, he wouldn’t have landed himself on the wrong side of a giant fish (the wrong side being the inside, in this case), but he would have landed himself in a battle. He would have been alone, one unpopular prophet from God’s people calling out the sins of a people who were not God’s.
The point is this: obedience means war. You will be headed into battle. But it is better to be slashed to bits by dragon claws and be living in the presence of God than to be in “safety” outside of His presence. If you are in the battle you were sent to fight, then there is grace to sustain you, then you will not ultimately be defeated — even if you break (and let’s be real… you might. I am living this right now. I feel my brokenness, my weakness under the weight of the battle, my failure to bear the fight well. And along comes that picture, of St. George, collapsed, borderline unconscious, wounded in battle and completely unable to fend off anymore attacks… until he is given what he needs and he immediately gets up and fights relentlessly yet again…). But if you are avoiding obedience, if you find yourself negligent in prayer, finding plausible excuses for why you are not opening your Bible, if you are resisting gathering with God’s people — watch out, friend. You serve a God who will not hesitate to blow your world apart if that is what it takes to pull you back from the sin you hold so dear.
In the end, you are either St. George or Fish Bait, either resting and provided for, or fleeing and finding no escape. But the Lord — He does not change. Choose this day whom you will serve. Get out and fight the dragon you were sent to fight.