Friday, March 21

starting now | when all you want to do is run away

I sit cross-legged, Bible and commentary in lap and marvel at the blue sky beyond my window. It has been a dreadful winter, and I know my heart isn't the only one that feels a bit tattered.

A bit sometimes like it wants to run away.

You see, I'm a collector of coffee cups. misfit mugs. tea cups and saucers. So about a year ago, after I graduated, someone I love dearly got me a new ceramic cup as a gift. It's a swirl of blue and green with tree branches, and the note attached said-
For all your new adventures. They start now, my girl.

Instead of using the cup, I buried it. Because my life didn't feel like an adventure. It felt like I was failing. I didn't have my life together, let alone an adventure.

So I packed this gift away. It sat in my garage for a few months, at the bottom of a box.

This week's passage was Jonah 1-2, which is one of my favorite books of the Bible. Psalms, Job, and Jonah. And John.

I feel magnetized to these books because they are blatantly emotional and the people in them are totally messy. I like Matthew Henry's idea that Jonah is "best understood by those who are most acquainted with their own hearts."

Jonah, who was supposed to go to Ninevah, took to the sea instead. In a lit class I once took, we learned that the sea is an incredibly vital twist in most stories. You see: the ocean doesn't trace paths. There's no way to follow someone or prove where they came from. You don't go to the sea just to travel: you go to the sea because you want to get lost.

When Jonah turns from Ninevah to sail in the other direction, my heart beats a little faster. Because he's not just running away from God, he's running away from his entire identity- not only as a messenger, and a man, and a writer, but also as a person who believes in God.

So what does God do?

He sends a storm.

Photo by Leviathan 1983/ CC BY

What I find in these words is that God wants to know Jonah with abandon. Wandering, doubtful, runaway, Jonah because that's not all Jonah is to God. Jonah, whose name means "dove" or "messenger," is God's beloved.

And God, in His great mercy, will use any method to bring us back to Him.

Even if it means using a fish.
Even if it means using a storm.
And even if it means using a cross.


I take a minute to sift in these words, of a God who goes after runaway hearts. Who loves people who don't always love Him back. I wonder if I have rejected my Ninevah. If I have not seen today, this day, as a gift.

So I grab a chair and I go to the cupboard and root around until I find it. My blue mug, painted tall with trees, a sign of promise. Because I may wander and go off course, but that's not all that God sees in me. It is sheer mercy that I have been given this adventure, this life. And the Lord will do anything to remind me of who I am [and to Whom I belong]. Even if it means using the storm.

It's time to face this day, and all of my seasons, and not turn from the things I know I'm supposed to be doing. Even the things that seem small.

So I go to work. I read and teach and give what I have. I open up my words and pour them out like water. Because here, now, I'm trying to be present for this moment, convinced that it might just be exactly where I'm supposed to be.

For all your new adventures. They start now, my girl.


Mary Kelly Roberts said...

I love this! Especially the part about Jonah running away from his entire identity.

Misce Eugenio said...

I take a minute to sift in these words, of a God who goes after runaway hearts. Who loves people who don't always love Him back.

--- Love this! Thanks for sharing! So happy to read your post today! :)

Elizabeth said...

It's nice to "meet" you, Mary Kelly. Thanks for stopping by!

Elizabeth said...

Misce, I appreciate your kind words! I'm learning so much from the SRT readings.

Erin C said...

I lov this. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself!

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for saying hello, Erin :)