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I am Jonah

November 8, 2013

Humpback Whale Breach 108

I am Jonah.

I run the other way and stomp my foot in protest and talk back in stubborn dissent. Even when I know what I’ve heard and from whom I’ve heard it, I have several better, more doable options to suggest.

My “doable options” are equally outrageous. When we were contemplating leaving Turkey for grad school, Seattle seemed far scarier than staying. And when grad school was nearing an end, the fear of starting from scratch and launching new ministries in Colorado felt impossible. For 24 hours we were moving back to Turkey.

Last week I mentioned Kenya. Yep. Kenya. Have we ever been? No. But it honestly felt like a “doable option” compared to what God was asking us to do. Surely not Nineveh God! Surely not that way, them. Spidered brambles again?

These were the words which originally launched me out of the whale, the first time I ran in protest, 17 years ago…

I would rather clutch my invitation and wait my turn in party clothes, prim and proper, safe and clean, but a pulsing hand keeps driving me over peaks and ravines and spidered brambles. So I will pant up to the pearled knocker, tattered, breathless, and full of tales. (Janet Chester Bly)

Because that is what I want… a life full of tales. A life of reckless abandon. A life that is messy but beautiful, with meaning and purpose. A life worthy of hearing, “well done my good and faithful servant.” And not out of duty or debt, but truly out of a desire to bring the kingdom to earth as it is in heaven because in doing so I see more of God, experience more of Jesus.

So here was the question: if presented with the opportunity to live what we preach, would we respond? Would we put aside our fear, our convenience, and all of the unknowns, the unanswerables? A young man is fatherless, on the streets at risk of trafficking… would we live what we write and speak and teach about everyday in our ministries?

Or would we move to Kenya?

The whale came fierce. Swallowed me up whole as I wept and imagined every worst case scenario my melancholy mind could muster. The call to Nineveh felt too risky and unpredictable. Too much God! You’re asking too much!

But it was a fierce love, a saving grace in tumultuous waters. The whale saved Jonah and the wrestling with God confirmed the call and calmed the fear. I was spit out just in time to meet him, the young man who is moving into our home.

…the young man to whom my son is giving his room
…the young man whom my youngest has eagerly anticipated coming all week
…the young man I feel compelled to bless
…the young man who will change us all

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