Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Not-So-Well-Known Bible Story of Jonah and The Vine

*This post is a longer one, but I promise it's golden!

With Easter on the horizon and bible talk with Baby Bear (he's nine now!) after church
I can't help but reflect on all of the bible stories that I learned as a child 
I come up with so many classic Sunday School lessons...

Noah and the Arc and his many pairs of animals,
David and Goliath,
Jesus healing a blind man,
Moses parting the Red Sea,
Joseph and the Technicolor Coat,
Jonah and the Whale...
Oh how the list goes on!

Undoubtedly one of my favorites was Jonah and the Whale.
Come on, who wouldn't love the story of a man swallowed by a whale who lived to tell about it!?!
(It may help that Disney got ahold of this one and paired it with a precious -but lying- wooden puppet)
Now as an adult I find myself loving the Sunday School classics with a nostalgic reverance, rather than the action packed tales of my youth.
During college, God changed my preconceived notions about Jonah and said whale through a message at church. In fact, He made me forget the whale completely!
At the end of chapter 4 in the book of Jonah comes the story of Jonah and the vine,

"Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, "It would be better for me to die than to live."
But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?"

"I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die."

But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"
-Jonah 4: 5-11

Let's just set the scene here with a spark noted version of this passage.
After his major temper tantrum, Jonah storms out of the city into the dessert to pout.
I imagine him shaking his fist at God angry about the city he has been called to preach
while stomping his feet every step of the way.

Despite Jonah's spoiled actions, God provides three things for him:
1. a vine for shade
2. a worm to wither above-mentioned vine
3. a hot wind from the east
Sitting amongst God's provision, Jonah finds himself miserable
and, once again, shakes his fist.
(This time I see both hands high in the air while the veins in his neck bulge)

God, strong, yet gentle in his great patience, reminds Jonah
he had no hand in growing the vine or creating the worm's appetite or stirring the winds.
In fact, God continues, Jonah has no concern about the vine, the worm, the winds.
But God does.

Why, oh why is it so easy to be just like Jonah?
God calls us to bring glory to Him in a way we weren't expecting
and how do we react?
With a huff and a puff and a storm right out of town.
When God provides for our completely undeserving selves and it dies away,
we throw a fit, shake our fists, and stomp off.
Why God? Why me? What don't you get?
Woe is me!

Time to get it straight.
I am blessed to live a wonderful life in a beautiful country
with an amazing family and a husband that's better than I could ever have dreamed.
I didn't do anything to earn it.
My life is so blessed by His grace.
So what if I don't have the beauty of Miss America,
the brains of a Harvard graduate,
the sports skills of Kobe Bryant?
I have more than I could ever dream of because Christ died on the cross for me
to please his Father who really should unleash His rage on my sinful self.
Just as the vines come and provide shade, God covers us.

God will bless me with light, with sun (He must like sun-kissed skin too!) by allowing worms in.
All jokes aside, I give thanks for the sun.
God is exposing us because He knows we will not burn to a crisp
under the heat of His greatest star.
He will provide a breeze or some water, shade or some clouds
until the time has come for you to enjoy the coolness of night.
While that hot eastern wind blows, be thankful for the air that fills your lungs.
Be thankful for the invisible reminder of God's strength.
Realize that, just like in the Bible, one feels most alive when life is reminding you
it's just not easy.

Don't just count your blessings, but attribute them to the Almighty King
 that deserves much more than we could ever bring to Him.
 Remember His sweet blessings on your life the next time you are grouchy
about the calling He has for you.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I LOVE the story of Jonah and the Vine. Thank you for sharing this today and reminding me of how GREAT He is. God is good, ALL the time!


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