The One Where God Smacked Me Upside the Head

I grew up in a church. My family was one that was in church any time the doors were open. We were in children’s choir, youth group, puppeteering, even clowning. *** My exposure to all things Jesus included all the best Bible stories. And there were some weird ones. Daniel hung out with some lions, Jesus turned water into wine. Kind of cool. And of course I knew Jonah and the whale. Or I thought I did. And then my friend Danielle delivered me a sermon.

In case you aren’t familiar, I’ll catch you up to speed.

So Jonah was a prophet of God, and God wanted him to go to Ninevah, which was the heart and soul of wickedness. They skinned their enemies and cut out their tongues, they terrorized the countryside, and they probably didn’t even wipe their sweat off the stationary bike at the gym. They were all around bad dudes and dudettes. And God wanted them to know it. Text messaging hadn’t been invented yet, except for that one time with some stone tablets on Mount Sinai, so God told Jonah to get a move on and tell the bad guys that God was going to shake things up if they didn’t change their ways. And Jonah said no.

Here’s the part I didn’t understand. Jonah said no, not because he was afraid he would be skinned, detongued, and forced to sit through spin class in a puddle of someone else’s sweat. He didn’t want to go because he didn’t want God to forgive them.

See, Jonah knew God. He knew his goodness and his mercy and that God kept his word. And if God keeps his word, that would mean that if the bad guys said sorry and meant it, God was going to forgive them. FORGIVE THEM! And Jonah basically said in his head “Are you kidding me? God wants me to share heaven with these heathens? Yeah, no thanks!” So he jumped on board a ship to Joppa, which is, like, a gajillion miles away in the opposite direction. Because we can hide from God and all, right?

Another phenomenal BC drawing. You’re welcome.

As I sat in the sermon, God hit me over the head with a giant, soggy fish. Danielle was preaching to ME. And God and I had a chat.

God: Yo, Jonah.

Me: That’s not my name.

God: Might as well be. Hey, how ’bout handing out some of that forgiveness I’ve given you?

Me: But, they… I mean… what about… Okay, NO.

God: Seriously? Do it.

Me: But they –

God: Do it.

Me: But when-

God: *facepalm* Kid, Imma say this slowly so you can understand. You don’t deserve grace. But I gave it to you, right?

Me: Right, but-

God: You’re a sinner.

Me: I got that, but they –

God: Who forgave those sins?

Me: Um, you, but-

God: Who?

Me: You. You forgave my sins.

God: You’re a sinner. They are sinners.

Me: You got that right! Do you know what they –

God: *sigh* Let me explain it another way. You don’t deserve grace any more than they do. And they certainly don’t deserve it any less.

Me: …

God – Hello?

Me:…

God: I’m glad we had this little talk, aren’t you?

And here’s the beauty of it. I AM glad we had that talk. Because it has changed me. Suddenly, I could let go of that perceived slight. I didn’t worry over someone’s misdeeds because I, too, had been given a gift that I didn’t deserve. I fall short of God’s glory, and He gets that. He’s got grace in abundance and stands in the gap for me, and if he will do it for me in all my brokenness, who am I to stand in the way of other people receiving the same gift? So I say thanks and move on when I didn’t think moving on was even a possibility. God is good that way.

Have you ever felt like the message (from sermon, book, movie, music video, etc) was directed at you?

***Don’t knock it. We were paid $10 an hour in the 80s to don the clown suit and terrorize entertain children at picnics and such.

 

Advertisements

What’s Left?

This picture is directly related to my post. The world as we know it may come to an end.

I’ve been making a serious effort toward self-improvement. If it’s not good for me, I’ve been getting it out of my life, hopefully for good and ever.

It started with the cream in my coffee. I like creamer. The flavored kind. Lots of it. To the tune of one gigantic bottle of hazelnut a week. It wasn’t a problem for me. Something like 5 calories from fat per serving. But when I finally did the mental math about a year ago and discovered that I was consuming more than 1/2 my daily fat in creamer per day, I was floored. *Poof*  Creamer was gone overnight.

I added exercise, but I still wasn’t losing the weight I wanted to lose. Along came Lent. I gave up sweets and fast food, and dropped more than a few pounds. In order to keep myself from feeling deprived, I allowed myself a single favorite brownie per week. I didn’t even count the calories. I figured one brownie a week will keep me from craving other stuff. *Poof* Sweets and fast food gone.

I still have some weight to lose, and I’ve not been able to exercise as much, so I dropped my daily calories to about 1800 per day, give or take. That means that the sandwich or veggie burger, cheddar crackers, etc were too much. I’m down to two smaller meals and one big one (dinner) per day.*Poof* Big lunch gone.

The Earth Fare started messing with my life. They raised the price on my precious brownie. It went from $1.49 to $2.49 in 3 short months. The quality is too inconsistent to pay that much for it. It’s no longer worth it to me. *Poof* Delicious vegan brownie gone.

A few years after my son was born, I realized that I had inherited a metabolic disorder that can cause me a world of hurt if I don’t baby my liver. *Poof*  All alcoholic beverages gone. Forever.

We’ve been trying to stay out of debt and get ahead financially by following the basic but effective teachings of Dave Ramsey.  Recreational shopping is down to a very, very bare minimum, and we’ve been cutting back wherever we can. *Poof* Cable TV gone. I don’t miss this one at all, actually.

And this morning, I realized that if I keep drinking coffee (sugar, no cream, thank you) at my current rate of consumption, I will have a stroke before I am 45. Seriously. When you nearly blew a gasket because your toddler won’t stop talking, and an episode of “House” brings on heart palpitations, it really is time to cut back on the java. And I know it. But I am resentful. And bitter. Bitter as day-old coffee grounds.

I love coffee. I didn’t always. I pretended to like it when a coffee-loving suitor took me to a coffee shop on our first date. I learned to like dumping in gallons of flavored creamer when suitor became husband. And I learned to adore it myself when I gave up the creamer and actually bought good, fair-trade, shade-grown stuff. French roast became my favorite, all bold and sassy, and so strong it could talk back. And now what?

What pleasure is left in my life? I don’t eat sweets or fast food. My lunch is limited to a salad. Snacking between meals is out of the question except for boring, pre-approved items. I have no vegan brownie, or even a reasonable facsimile.I can’t go on wild shopping sprees. I can’t even drink to forget just how deprived I am. There is little fun left to me now. The next thing you know, someone will tell me that sex leads to pregnancy, and I’ll have to give that up, too.

But I am trying to focus on the positive. I know that my efforts to improve my life and my health will help me to live longer. Or at least it will feel like it.