Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Plan and Part

Devotion: Jonah 4:5-7

I am glad to be back in the blog saddle this week, but just a reminder that our blog updates will be spotty over the summer months. At any rate, let's continue in our study of Jonah.

We last left Jonah angry with God over his grace for the great city of Nineveh. Jonah preached destruction because he hoped that destruction would befall that city. When the city repented and the Lord was gracious, Jonah was mad. The prophet had a plan and a part for God to play, but the Lord had a different plan.
Frustration is the result of Jonah's plan not aligning with the plan of God. And so this week we find Jonah pitching a tent (i.e. booth) with a good vantage point of the city:
"Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. Now the LORD God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered." -Jonah 4:5-7 ESV
Jonah cannot take God's grace and deliverance of Nineveh for an answer. The prophet is so convinced that Nineveh ought to be destroyed that he camps out and waits. Jonah cannot accept that he was wrong and that God will not play a part in his plan.
To teach Jonah this lesson, God causes a plant to grow and give shade to Jonah. Jonah, camping out to see Nineveh destroyed, is really happy to have some shade. Then, the next morning, the Lord sends a worm to destroy the plant and take away the shade. We will see next week that this upsets Jonah. So what is the point of it all?
The point is this--it is the Lord's plan that matters. We can have days of joy and comfort and days of pain and discomfort. In the end, the Lord is sovereign and it is His plan that matters. God will not play a part in our plans, but, by His grace, we may play a part in His plan. Jonah had attempted to put his will over the will of God and the result was that Jonah grew frustrated, even angry, that the Lord would not capitulate to his desire.
I think we all can learn a lesson from this. Often our frustration, even anger, with God is because the Lord will not do what we want when we want it how we want it. God will not play the role we assign to him and so we get mad at God. Yet, in the midst of it all, God is telling us simply, "You are not in charge." What we do with that lesson will depend on our relationship with God in faith.

The song this week is "Concrete Heart" by Tina Boonstra.

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