God’s Best

God keeps bringing my thinking back to His best.

 

When I at look at my choices, He nudges me to ask “what is My best for you?”

When I decide on my reactions to people, He nudges me to ask “what is My best for you?

When I consider my actions, He nudges me to ask “what is My best for you?”

 

Because God’s standards are high – but never impossibly unreachable.  They are perfectly complete to fulfill us, to fashion us, and to reform us.  He doesn’t want less than His best for us.  Because then we are less than the image of Jesus and off course from His perfect purpose for us.

 

God is the author of best.

God is the definer of best.

God is the maintainer of best.

 

And so He keeps bringing my thinking back to what He considers best.  Reminding me that He knows best.  That He plans best.  That He thinks best.  That he says best.  That He loves best.  That he does best.  That He forgives best.

 

That he knows best.  Oh, wait, I already said that one.  But it is so important that I need to repeat it.  Over and over and over to myself, until it starts to sink in as unshakable truth.

 

When God asks us to do, He means we need to move, to go, to do.  And He knows best.  When God asks us to forgive, He means we need to let go, to release, to move on.  And He knows best.  When God asks us to pray, He means for us to seek Him, to listen to Him, to choose His will (over our own).  And He knows best.  When God asks us to give, He is asking us to spend for His purposes, to give into His will, to donate toward His love.  And He knows best.  When God asks us to listen, He means to stop talking, stop formulating a response (lame reason), to actually hear the Word being spoken over us.  And He knows best.

 

Best.  Not justifying our (wrong) choices to Him.

Best.  Not rationalizing our (bad) behavior to Him.

Best.  Not denying the mistakes (will errors) we make to Him.

Best.  Not ignoring the tug of the Spirit within us.

Best.  Not hoping God isn’t paying attention or watching us do as we please.

Best.  Not reasoning God will be alright with our (selfish) choices.

 

Best is being on board with God.  Especially when you don’t want to because it is hard and requires sacrifice.

 

Because we all struggle with something outside of God’s best for us.  And that struggle is real and painful and hard.  But in letting go of what we want and reaching for His best instead we could experience the beginning of something amazing.  Going through the struggle – and overcoming – could open the door for us to know and experience His best.  And it always starts with a choice.  MY choice.

 

Ask the sinful woman in John 8.  “Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?’” (John 8:3-5)

God's Best

First, stop.  Stop judging her.  Stop criticizing her in your head.  Because we all have adultery in our lives.  We all have something wrong, to varying degrees, that we are choosing to do.  We are all this woman, standing in front of a judgmental crowd with little to nothing to cover our sins.  The only difference is this woman got caught – and shamed – in a public setting to trick Jesus into a corner.  So stop judging her this minute.

 

And find compassion on a woman who made a mistake.  Who was most likely set up to make this mistake.  And who had such a serious mistake brought into a very public arena.  Where she had to stand, possibly only in a bed sheet clutched tightly around her, and not flinch at the harsh gleam of judgment in people’s eyes.  With loud voices crying out for her demise all around her.  And probably trembling, with tears glistening in her eyes, she probably pondered her life.  How one wrong choice led to another in (rapid) succession – and trying to figure out how exactly it led her to this public square.  Deserving of contempt but secretly desperate for compassion.

 

And Jesus holds her life literally in His hands in this moment.  She assumes her end is near, and she probably tries to make peace with God.  When she is startled back to reality with a surprising statement – “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:7).

 

What?  He will not condemn her?  He will not convict her?  Could that be a spark of hope renewed in her?

 

It was too much for her to believe God’s best could be for her.  Not after all her choices.  It was too impossible to believe God could forgive her.  Redeem her.  Release her.  But God’s best was present, and it was ready to do all this for her.

 

Because as she stood in amazement, the miracles kept coming.  One by one her accusers slink off, silently sullen and self-convicted.  And soon she is alone with Jesus.  The unbelievable man who refused to throw any stones at her.

 

She is still scantily clad.  She is still a broken woman.  She is still wrapped in the shame of her sinful choices.  So now, when there were no witnesses, would He pick up a stone?  Surely now the pretense would be over.

 

But God continues to pour His best over this woman.  Still more than she could have hoped for.  “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11).

 

Go in the flow of My best.  Which frees you from the shackles of your past and the shame of your choices.  Go in the freedom of My best.  Which has given you the opportunity to go back into the world a different woman who can and will make better choices.  Go in the force of My best.  Which includes a love unconditional and unshakable and undeniable.

 

And I choose to believe she stood up straight and made a few new life choices.  I think she realized the power of God’s love and let it bring out the best in her.

 

So what is your adultery?

Where are you stuck?

How far are you from God’s best?

 

Is it unforgiveness?  Is it criticism?  Is it revenge?  Is it selfishness?  Is it gossip?  Is it stinginess?  Is it coldness?  Is it harsh words?  Is it judgment?  Is it lust?  Is it impurity?  Is it impure thoughts?  Is it overspending?  Is it addiction?

 

It is never too late to start again or anew.  It is never too late to choose His best.

 

Maybe we can both start today.  By putting down our defenses and letting go of our excuses.

 

So we can be open and free to find and receive His best for us.  He is waiting eagerly to give it to us!

 

Marie Fremin.  6/3/17

Where I Am

I wake up every day and wonder “Am I where I am supposed to be?”

Where I Am

And I think that’s human.  We have a tendency to think there might be something a little better out there we’re missing.  And the possibilities flow through my mind as I ask this question.

 

But they don’t linger.  Because I believe with that God has me right where He needs me to be.  To influence.  To love.  And most importantly to grow.

 

Oh, the glorious pain of change.  That reminds us we can never be self-sufficient or self-reliant and be joyful.  Because though we are close to heaven, we are far from perfection and completion.  We are ever working toward our glorious eternity with our loving Father.

 

And each day we change a little more.  Even if only a millimeter.  Even if only a quarter hour.  Even if only one comment, one thought, one reaction, one word, or one smile.

 

And I have to remind myself that I am exactly where God needs me to be.  No matter how much I may not want to (aka feel like) be there.  No matter how uncomfortable I am.  No matter how much I don’t want to change.

 

Because God has a bigger purpose than my current emotional state.

God has a better plan than my static comfort.

God has an eternal priority that He continues to work out.

 

And it starts with me.  Being good with where He has me.  Being faithful each day to say “God, I trust what You are doing”.  And then showing up.  And then paying attention to His voice.  And then being intentional with my choices.  And then being open to thinking, doing, and speaking differently.

 

And it doesn’t matter that I may want to be somewhere else, where I get my way more frequently and can more readily control things around me.  Because I am where God needs me to be.  And I believe that, with my whole heart.  So I’ll get up each day and know God is working on me so He can work through me.

 

Marie Fremin.  5/27/17

Resentment

Am I the only one this week who feels the loving elbow of God nudging itself somewhat forcefully into her ribs?

 

It’s OK if I’m the only one.  Because I am in a season – or I guess more specifically a valley – where God and I are wrestling out another piece of my broken human spirit.

 

And as of today, this piece now has a name.  Resentment.

resentment 1

Getting to work this morning, the first thing I encountered was a message that exemplifies the spirit of my office – “that’s not my job … that’s your job”.

 

And upon reading that, the dark cloud hanging over my head for a few days (OK, maybe weeks), gloomy yet unnamed, suddenly had a name.  And that name is resentment.

 

What is weighing me down is resentment.  That darkness that creeps a few steps deeper into my consciousness is resentment.  And it is an overall ugliness of mind, tongue, and attitude that wants to consume me like the cloud that covers Pigpen in Peanuts cartoons.

resentment 2

So I never see clearly.

So I never think rationally.

So I never speak grace-fully.

 

And there resentment hangs a black cloud over my head, slowly blowing its breeze of depression and oppression over me.

 

And since I accept the breeze and breathe it in, I am slowly becoming a walking epitome of resentment.

 

I am angry.

I am mad.

I am furious.

I am upset.

I am anxious.

I am frustrated.

I am sad.

I am honestly a little disgusted.

 

I am all kinds of levels of crazy and messed up.  Because I have fed into the spirit of resentment.  I have given it a place.  I have allowed it space.  And therefore it is hindering my race.  I am off-track of God’s purpose and off-course of God’s grace.

 

Because I am letting “it is not my job” and “that is not my problem” attitudes affect me.  I am allowing resentment to come in, sit down, and participate in the day.

 

And this is the boom God dropped on me in just in a few minutes this morning.  God and I had a serious moment when I started seeing all of this clearly and when my angst was given a name.

 

And there was actually a moment of celebration.  Yes, really.  No joke.  Why?

 

Because now I can tame what has been named.  Because now I can claim God’s grace over what has been named.

 

I can now tame – and completely stop – the influence of resentment in my life.

I can now tame – and completely still – my agitated thoughts and careless tongue.

I can now tame – and completely silence – my bad/ugly/hostile attitudes.

 

Because my angst has a name.  And because it does, it is subject to God’s authority.  Philippians 2:9-11 – “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Everything on earth is subject to His glorious name.

 

Including resentment.

 

So now the challenge becomes how do I deal with it.

 

What’s the battlefield?  Every minute of every day of human life.

More narrowly?  The hours spent at work.

 

What’s the victory?

Not letting resentment consume me.

Not letting resentment define my emotional state.

Not letting resentment guide/influence my choices.

 

Because resentment is a valley.

 

And we aren’t supposed to live or stay in the valleys.  We aren’t supposed to bunk down or camp out in the valley.  Because the valley is only a testing ground.  It is the place of decision where we have to decide to put our faith into action.  It is the passageway from one victory to the next.  It is the place where we are strengthened by truth and encouraged by progress to continue our journey.  The valley is where we decide – and then declare – God is faithful and true.

 

So why am I stuck, mired down in resentment?  Because I have forgotten that we have to do what God says and to move in His direction when we are in the valley.  We have to keep moving toward the given way out instead of standing still.  We have to be like David and run in faith with the great hope of grace (1 Samuel 17:48).

 

But I have not been trying to get out of the valley of resentment.  Instead, I have been building walls and stacking them as high as they can go.  I have not been walking through.  Instead, I have planted my feet firmly and refused to move.  I have not tired to be or do better, in any way.  Instead, I have chosen to embrace resentment and wallow in her ways.

 

So what’s the hard truth this time?  Resentment is NOT God’s best for me.  It never will be.  Because resentment keeps me stuck, unmoving and unchanging, in its deadly quicksand-like vise.  Because resentment keeps me from letting go of what does not promote God’s goodness or propel God’s plans.

 

Hebrews 12:1 – “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

 

I am not running toward God.  I am clinging to resentment.  I am weighing myself down with foolishness and trapping myself in resentment’s sinful web.

 

And I own this.  Fully and completely.  Therefore, God’s grace can begin its healing and restorative work.

 

Because resentment cannot hide in the shadows or stay cloaked in darkness once it is named.  It has a name now.  It is known now.  Its effects are seen now.

 

Romans 5:3-5 – “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

 

Now hope can invade all resentment’s spaces and fill me up with grace.

Now hope can begin a new work.

 

Yes, I am still in the valley.

Yes, I am still finding resentment in spaces within my heart.

 

But God is with me.

God is for me.

God loves me.

 

So one day very soon I will be able to triumphantly declare my victory over resentment!

 

Marie Fremin.  5/18 and 5/21/17

God’s Grace

I was definitely a target this past week, because hell came against me in all its fury.  Somehow I survived this week of being hit with one fiery dart after another after another.  It was non-stop, and it was draining.

 

And now I stop.  Because did I really just say “somehow”?  It’s not somehow.  It’s never somehow.  It’s never an unknown, nameless force.

 

It was grace.  It is always grace.

God’s amazing grace.

God’s uplifting grace.

God’s encouraging grace.

God's Grace

God’s grace.  It kept fists at my side when I was assaulted by a mistimed encounter with a disgruntled sibling.  Way too early in the morning.  Before I was ready for work, had breakfast, or was even fully dressed.  When the conversation was predicated with a repeated “I just have one quick question” – that was neither quick nor singular.

 

God’s grace.  It kept frustration at bay – and hopefully out of my voice – when a customer ripped into me about her dissatisfaction and demanded money back.  Without providing any information on who she was and what exactly happened.  She insisted on talking and expressing herself in demands without giving me much opportunity to speak.

 

God’s grace.  It kept insanity from bubbling over.  It said “get up” when several crazy things happened at one and I was completely overwhelmed.  When the screams inside my head threatened to expel from my lips and I felt my last good nerve snap because there were too many things at one time coming at me.

 

God’s grace.  It kept tongue in check when no one paid attention and then no one took responsibility for a call that should not have happened.  When the finger pointed in every other direction than toward self and it was always someone else’s fault.

 

God’s grace.  It stayed back exhaustion each night until I could get home safely and collapse into bed.

 

Because I know without a doubt that I would have imploded or just stayed in bed without the hope and uplift of God’s grace.  Because grace reminds me that God is wise beyond my own human understanding.  That God will help me find balance in the middle of my chaotic emotions and crazy reality.  That God loves me through all the messes, the meanies, and the wrong messages.  God’s grace.  So beautifully explained in Isaiah 43.

 

God’s grace.  Which reminds me of His love unconditional and true.  “… I have called you by your name; You are Mine …” (1d-e).

 

God’s grace.  Which reminds me that He is always with me and will keep me safe within His purposes.  “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.” (2).

 

God’s grace.  Which reminds me that I have a loving Savior who purposely chose me and has a great plan to redeem me.  “Fear not, for I have redeemed you … For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (1c, 3a-b).

 

God’s grace.  Which reminds me I am completely precious to God.  “Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you” (4a-c).

 

God’s grace.  Which reminds me that fear and frustration only invite darkness in and keep me from hope and peace that want to envelope me.  “Fear not, for I am with you” (5a).

 

God’s grace.  Which reminds me that I am uniquely and wonderfully made by His loving hands for His glorious purposes.  “Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him” (7).

 

God’s grace.  Which reminds me the impossible is never out of reach when I trust in the God of the impossible.  “Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea And a path through the mighty waters … I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.” (16, 19d-e).

 

God’s grace.  Which reminds me that there is always a new opportunity, a new possibility, and a new chance.  “Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it?” (19a-c)

 

It’s grace.

It’s always grace.

When you think there isn’t another step you can take, grace nudges you forward.

When you think there is a word you have to say, grace encourages silence.

When you think your strength is gone, grace infuses you with a little more.

When you think there is no way out, grace shines a ray of hope through the darkness.

When you think God has forgotten you, grace whispers “never!”

When you think God’s love has run out, grace whispers “impossible!”

When you think God isn’t working for you, grace whispers “watch!”

 

So this past week reminded me the importance of leaning into grace.  It will get you through.

 

Marie Fremin.  4/29-4/30/17

Choices

Our life is the result of the choices we make.

Choices

Each day we make choice after choice.  We create the life we experience today – and tomorrow.  We shape the reality we walk in today – and tomorrow.  We set in motion the consequences we reap today – and tomorrow.  We plant the hope or hurt we feel today – and tomorrow.  We decide who we are – and who we will be.  We determine who we can be – at our best or worst.

 

We declare whose we are – whether we fully belong to God or not.  Because God doesn’t want only 20%, 50%, 75%, or even 99% of our heart.  He wants ALL of us.  He wants every hope, every wish, every dream, every desire.  He wants all of our emotions, our thoughts, our motivations, our attitudes.

 

He especially wants all of your choices.

He wants the right to say “no” when you are not on His course.

He wants the authority to ask you to walk away from what you think you want.

 

He wants you to follow Him toward His best plans and purposes.  No matter how much you want to do things your way.  To stay home.  To go out.  To jump into bed.  To avenge yourself.  To speak up.  To keep quiet.  To judge.  To punish.  To hate.

 

He wants to be part of every choice.  He wants to shape your today for good, which will shape your tomorrow for great.  Without regret interfering.  Without self-condemnation interceding.  Without selfishness impeding.  Without self-righteousness intimidating.

 

But with all our choices, how often do we choose what He wants?

How often do we decide with His best in mind?

How often do we shape our reality with His guidelines as our boundaries?

 

We are human, and if we are honest, we probably rarely do.  Because we want to feel happy all the time.  We want to be satisfied now.  We think we know better.

 

When we really know nothing.  “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).  We cannot see history from its beginning.  We cannot see the stars from end to end of the heavens.  We cannot look back on all that has been or see ahead to all that will be.  We cannot even see something simple like tomorrow.

 

Yet we make choices like we have all the answers, divine vision, and eternal perspective.  Again, because we think we know better.  But how can we know (ourselves) better than the One who created us?  The One who “formed my inward parts” (Psalm 139:13a).  The One who “wove me in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13b) to “fearfully and wonderfully” make us (Psalm 139:14a) as an expression of His love.  The One who cherishes us as “His poetry/artwork” (Ephesians 2:10) to display His love.

 

But here is what we should always remember: He, and only He, knows best.  So all our choices should be filtered through Him.  Let your choices – ALL your choices – reflect your love and respect for Him.  “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me” (Isaiah 55:2-3a).

 

Because when they don’t, we end up with a mess instead of His miracles.

HIS BEST

OUR MESS

Self control – saying “no” to your body now for God’s best later Sex – getting physically and emotionally connected (bonded) to someone without God’s boundary of marriage.  Which can lead to sex slavery, STD’s, and single parenthood.  It also makes it difficult to end a relationship not sanctified by God.
Saving Grace – allowing His grace to guide us away from sin Saving face – justifying our mistakes instead of owning our sins
Accepted through God’s Love – knowing you are always loved by God Appearance and Popularity – feeling loved only when accepted by people
Repentance – acknowledging and being sorry about your sin Blame – making our problems someone else’s fault instead of taking responsibility for our reactions and choices
Relationship / Devotion – spending time with God and getting to know Him because you want to Rules – living by “have to” and “must” mindsets to earn God’s love.  Diverts us from knowing His love as it really is because we are always focused on doing our standard of “good” (enough)
Resting in Him – allowing yourself to find peace in His love Running – chasing the latest fad, fashion, and trend to create love and acceptance in your life
Endurance / Patience – considering your choices and allowing yourself to go without now for something better later Now – going after and seeking the quick fix and instant gratification so you can have now what you think is good.  But now never fully satisfies, and you always need more to feel fulfilled and happy
Revelation and Growth – hearing His truth.  Applying it to your life and letting it inform your choices Stuck – we choose to tune out God’s whisper of truth and ignore His heart prompt of right.  So we get stuck in what think is good and misdirected by what we want to be right.
Faith as Your Foundation – living with (full) confidence in God Feelings – living with your ever-changing emotions as your guide.  Living by what you want, what you think, and what you feel.
Being Firmly Planted – choosing what is right, no matter what it costs us Double minded – choosing Him only when it is convenient for us
Sacrifice / Serving – stepping out of your comfort zone and possibly being uncomfortable to help someone else Selfishness – choosing yourself and your wants over His best and His boundaries.  Allowing yourself to be bewitched away from Him by choosing you first instead of Him.

 

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

 

See what God does?  He always gives us the choice.  He always allows us to choose Him.  He never forces us in any way, shape, or form.

 

So today you can choose Him.

For the first time.

For the first time in a long time.

For a new start.

For a continued fellowship.

Choices 2

Whatever you choose, make your choice a good one.  Consider His best and see where He will take you.

 

Marie Fremin.  3/12/17

Shhhhh

My former neighbor used to joke that she had her youngest daughter on tape asking questions for at least five minutes straight.  She literally could not stop talking.  They would repeatedly tell her to hush, and she just couldn’t.

 

I am related to someone with the same problem.  No off button.  No one-time expressing of an opinion.  No letting go.  Just talking on – and on and on and on ….

Shhhhh

The on switch was flipped Saturday when I pulled into the parking lot of a local bakery.  I got to hear the same opinion at least ten times in less than ten minutes – with the corresponding commentary also on repeat.

 

I can normally tune it out and enjoy life.  But that day, it ruined the experience.  I stood looking at the delicious desserts but could not disengage from the chatter to savor the moment.  I left empty-handed with the diatribe still running strong.

 

And the whole time all I wanted to do was scream “HUSH!” to interrupt the unnecessary noise.

 

And as I sit here and remember, I start to laugh.  Because how often is it that God is trying to get me to stop?  How often is God nudging me to stop talking, stop rationalizing, and stop verbalizing?  How often is God trying to persuade me to just be?

 

But we think we need words.

Lots of words.

Fancy words.

Important sounding words.

 

Yes, God wants our words.

But more than anything, God wants us.

God wants our unshielded heart.

God wants our undivided attention.

God wants our unyielding devotion.

 

God wants us to stop trying to fix it ourselves.

God wants us to stop talking ourselves into doing things our ways.

God wants us to stop thinking we know everything.

God wants us to stop imagining every bad scenario and possibility.

 

The religious leaders didn’t get it.  They loved to use words and talk incessantly.  Because they had to prove just how smart they were.  And Jesus warned us to not be like them – “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 5:7).

 

God is looking for simple.

God is looking for sincere.

God is looking for honest.

 

Not brash.

Not loud.

Not long.

 

God doesn’t advise to be in His presence and keep talking.  He says “Be still, and know that I am God …” (Psalm 46:10a).

Shhhhh 2

Be still.

Be quiet.

Be with Him.

Just be.

 

So today can you hush long enough to enjoy God?

 

Marie Fremin, 3/6/17

Jonah

“This is what anger can do: shatter things – a relationship, a reputation, a promise, a hope.”  – Carol Knapp, Daily Guideposts 2017, February 15th

 

That’s what it did to Jonah.

 

Jonah, the prophet famous for trying to run and hide from God (Jonah 1:3,5) because he did not want to go to Ninevah.  The prophet who compelled the sailors to toss him overboard to save their ship from the violent storm destroying it (Jonah 1:12).  The prophet who “was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17) getting right with God before “it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (Jonah 2:10).

 

The prophet who humbly proclaimed “… But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit” (Jonah 2:6).

 

You would think the man who just went through all that would just go with God’s flow and accept His purposes.  But not Jonah.

 

Now this humbled prophet has wandered outside Ninevah and angrily prayed, “Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:3).  The same man who just experienced three days of compassion and forgiveness with a big dose of redemption is very upset at God (Jonah 4:1) for extending the same things to Ninevah after the entire city, including the king, heard Jonah’s message and truly repented for their evil ways.

 

The same man who just a few days before was begging for mercy – “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me …” (Jonah 2:2) – is now outraged that the city of Ninevah did the same thing – “ … Let everyone call urgently on God … ” (Jonah 3:8).  And it was right that God heard and answered him and gave him another chance.  But it was totally wrong for God to do the same thing for Ninevah (Jonah 3:10).

 

And when I think about it like that, it’s crazy.  I totally get Jonah’s point of view.  I can see him sitting there thinking, “God, are you serious?  You made me spend three days floating in every gross thing imaginable to get my attention and get my apology.  This city hears eight words about their coming doom, makes several grand gestures about being sorry, and You say ‘never mind’.  Are you serious?  They don’t deserve anything good.  I get the fish, and they get nothing?  I had to suffer for the grace you showed me.  Why aren’t you making them suffer too?”

 

And I’ve rowed that boat before.  In fact, I find myself often rolling my eyes over certain things at work.  Like hiring a new shop manager, a man, and offering him more money than I was currently making after being there 4 years.  And thinking it was okay on several levels.  But here’s what I saw – it was wanting the experience he brings at the expense of my 4 years of hard work, long hours, and extreme dedication.  And knowing I bring something to the company he never will – the ability to be able to do my job and his.

 

I could have been like Jonah.  He was “righteously” angry and chose to dwell there.  He set up camp.  He wallowed until he was covered in it.  And he threw a temper tantrum, begging God several times to just let him die.  He refused to extend grace.  He refused to allow grace.  He refused to accept grace in action.

 

And God in that moment could have read Jonah his resume and reminded him of his choices.  He could have rubbed Jonah’s nose in his running away as just page one.  But that’s not who God is.  It’s not who He was with Jonah, and it’s not who He was with Ninevah.

 

But despite personally knowing God’s love in action, he couldn’t accept it for anyone else.  He was convinced God would change His mind, so much so that “he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city” (Jonah 4:5).  Why?  Because “Angry people stir up a lot of discord” (Proverbs 29:22a).

jonah

He could not get past their reputation to accept their repentance.  When that was what God wanted.  His great concern was the people.  Jonah’s great concern was vengeance.

 

So what happened to me at work?  I didn’t seek vengeance.  But I did speak up.  In a somewhat joking manner with a serious undertone.  I wanted it to be known that I did expect to be acknowledged for my years of dedication and hard work.  And I was.  And I’m convinced it was because I was honest without being angry or hostile.

 

The choice was mine, and I think I chose wisely.  Just like the choice was Jonah’s, and he chose selfishly.

 

And today is a new opportunity for us to choose.  We can be Jonah, angry and pouting with our hands tucked securely under our arms and refusing to allow grace.  Or we can be like God, gracious and good and forgiving.

 

Who do you want to be?

Who will you choose to be today?

 

Marie Fremin.  2/15/17 and 3/5/17