The story of Jonah has been on my mind for the past week and through a few conversations I was made aware that I am at a crucial place in my story. I’m standing on the dock, facing Nineveh with my back to the boat headed for the other direction.
Only the town/city in my story is not Nineveh, but right here where I am. I am not to go, but to stay. Stay put. Fight every urge to quit or run away. When tension and conflict appear, my instinct is to flee. And the conflict remains.
I keep hoping that I’ll wake up one day and life will become magically better, happier, and easier. Shiny happy diamonds and days at the beach.
But I’ve realized that I’ve reached the point in my life, journey and faith where I am seeing more of the backstage and the underbelly where singing a bunch of shiny happy songs isn’t going to make any of my circumstances better. I have reached the place where I see that there is a great cost to being a follower of Jesus. That obedience is absolutely painful and extremely messy. That my feelings are incredible liars and I’ve chosen the easy road for a very long time. I’ve learned that I’m a terribly slow learner. I’m very reluctant to listen to the hard things that God asks of me. I whine, I beg, I plead. Not THAT God, not now. How can you ask me to give THIS up God?
I wonder if this is the point where some give up on God because it gets too hard. I don’t blame them. It’s hard, it’s messy, it’s confusing. But my faith isn’t going anywhere but deeper. My foundation is being rebuilt as the lies are torn down. A more stable, more true foundation of identity and worth and discipleship. It’s going back to the basics.
I’m working with preschoolers every day during the week, and oh, how sad it is to see myself in those toddlers. The terrible twos. The tantrums. Mine. Pretty embarrassing at 30 to relate to 2 year olds.
Yes, God asks for ALL of me. And YES. It is PAINFUL. It requires sacrifice. Surrender. Often. I thought I’d emptied every last bit that I could empty, and I turn around and he continues to ask me to empty more. He won’t stop until I’ve given every last bit. ALL of it. ALL of me. My false identities, my idols, things I hold onto, dreams and hopes and desires. Lies about myself. Strongholds of deceit, prideful, arrogance, entitlement, anger, jealousy and envy.
For too long I have believed the ideas of the world, that I should be happy, that I should do what I love and get paid for it, that my work would define me and fulfill me. That growing up would be easy. That relationships would be free from conflict. That I would get along with everyone.
Some days I feel like I’m fighting a battle that is going to last for years and years and how could I possibly get through it all right now. I crave a break from all this. But I also want to reach the other side of this, avoid getting swallowed by a hungry giant fish and avoid having guts all over me.
No turning back. The cross before me. The world behind me.