Monday, June 22, 2009
Hide and Seek
In the book of Jonah, we read about a man who wants to play a game. The game is called Hide. He thinks he’s a really good player. But he’s playing his game against someone who plays a game called Seek. And he’s the best there is. There’s no one he can’t find …no one, absolutely no one. And He won’t stop until He finds whoever is hiding. It’s not in his nature to quit.
Jonah is the hider and from my perspective is kind of a punk. I don’t know if I’d like him if he moved next door to me. He’s trying to second guess God all the time, he’s disobedient, he thinks he can fool God, and he thinks his game of Hide is better than God’s game of seek. Jonah gives half-hearted effort and when he doesn’t get his way he gets all pouty and throws himself a pity party.
I identify with Jonah. That probably makes me a bit of a punk too. No comments on that please. I like to hide from God. Sometimes I don’t go all out. And I’ve been known to get all sulky and pouty. I'm not proud of this identification. It's painful to write the words. It is accurate however. Thankfully ... hiding, half-hearted effort, sulky and pouty is only an occassional description. I have better moments.
Jonah was being asked to be a prophetic voice, to go into the proverbial lions den and let the meanest, baddest people in the middle east (the Assyrians) know that they had ticked God off and God wanted them to change. Jonah was to remind them of their wickedness and turn their attention to a good God. It’s like one of us being asked to walk into Bin Liden’s camp to tell him and his friends God’s not happy with them.
Jonah didn’t want to go on his ‘mission from God', a mission that was going to require him to use words and not merely be a presence. I get why he wouldn’t want to go. I’d probably say to God
“You want me to go where and tell them what?”
Jonah knew if the Assyrians took God’s message seriously that God would have a big enough heart to give them a second chance. Jonah wasn’t so sure that a second chance is what they deserved. Jonah, I think, thought that God was for the Jews, not for those people over there. And so instead of going into a hostile environment to deliver a hard message that might result in the Assyrians getting a second chance…Jonah decided to run and hide.
Jonah heard pretty clearly from God. He decided not to act on what he heard. Because whatever he heard wasn’t what he wanted to hear.
I don’t know what Jonah was praying about on the morning he heard from God but it wasn’t about Ninevah I don’t think. What Jonah had on His mind wasn’t close to what God had on his. I learned a long time ago that God just might ask us to do something we’re equipped to do but not be something necessarily something we want to do.
That's something to file away. If you find yourself going through life only doing what you want to do …stop …because if you’re only doing what you want to do… well, that doesn’t sound like someone listening to God. Think about it. God has a history of calling people to things beyond what they ever imagined possible.
Noah, build me an Ark.
Moses, confront Pharaoah.
Esther, risk your life.
Mary, bear my son.
Peter, feed my sheep.
Jonah, go to Ninevah
It’s a pattern.
So, if you’re praying tonight and you’re asking God whether or not you should buy a Mercedes, or help in choosing your next outfit to buy, or what you should do with your life don’t be surprised if God says:
"Nope, not a Mercedes. You’ve got too much already. Buy a junker. Take the money you’d save each month and give it to the poor."
"No new outfit. You can’t wear everything you’ve got as it is. No, the reason I’ve got you hear at Nordstroms is because of this salesperson. She’s hurting. Needs a friend. She’s broke. You’re here because I want you to go to her, love her up, tell her about me."
"What you’re doing is fine. But I’ve created you for something more. Make a choice. Do you want your way or my best?"
These aren’t the answers we want. What we want God to say is "shop till you drop, live extravagantly even at the expense of ignoring people I put in your path. And of course, …do your will not mine."
I think Jonah wanted God to say. “I’ll let you go. I’ll find someone else. Spain is lovely this time of year. You deserve a break today.”
God loves us too much to tell us stuff that won’t make us more like Him and advance His purposes on this planet of ours. Our problem is that we’ll pretend not to hear and just go ahead and do what we want. That’s hiding. And God will find us, doing whatever is necessary to get our attention.
Slowly, but surely, I’m learning that it’s better to listen sooner rather than later. The truth of the matter is that God is good. Whatever He asks is His best for me you that moment. Why hide from that?