Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Do I take after Jonah? a query for a blogger's examen

In the past few days, Mother Church has presented Jonah for our edification. And, along with the study I've been up to to form a set of queries for blogs, it suggests one:

Do I fear changes, lest I lose my excuses to despise and the "safe" targets for my hate? Do I look with dismay on God because of His universal love and pity?

When Jonah was sent to preach to the people of Nineveh, he fled. But he did not flee because he was afraid of God; if he was afraid of God, he'd be going to Nineveh at double speed lest God zap him. He did not flee because he feared martyrdom at the hands of those foul Ninevites; he knew that the power of God and his status as stranger and guest in Nineveh would protect him.

He fled because he feared that the Ninevites, whom he despised, would repent at his words. He wanted Nineveh destroyed. And he knew God. He knew that if the Ninevites repented, that God would relent, and (oh, the very thought!) refuse to destroy them.

Even after all of Jonah's tribulations, after he preached to Nineveh, and they repent, and the Lord relents, this is how he prays, in his deep blue funk:

Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry that God did not carry out the evil he threatened against Nineveh. He prayed, "I beseech you, LORD, is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? This is why I fled at first to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in clemency, loathe to punish. And now, LORD, please take my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live."

Do I, at times, behave like Jonah? Do I ever despise or regret the love and mercy of God? Do I believe that anybody, any group, ought to be beyond the grace and mercies of God?

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