Many times, our conversation with God is a response to what He is already doing. A great way to begin a time of transition is by giving God ultimate permission to work in our lives in the way He sees fit. Obedience and surrender are the currency of transition.
Whether we realize it or not, we carry expectations into every relationship in life. This is no different in our relationship with the Lord. Honestly, I find that the longer we ‘work for the Lord,’ the more entitlement we may carry into our relationship with Him.
I hate to admit it, but I have had conversations with God during which I reminded Him of all that I have done for Him as a condition for Him to act more powerfully in my life. I have been offended at God when He doesn’t seem to do things in my timing or according to what I think He should do.
Times of transition are ripe for offense. God has just changed the course of our lives as He is entitled to do, but many times it is before we have full understanding of what it is that He is really doing.
So many men and women in the Bible were offended by God, but Jonah was most definitely our clearest example. Chapter 4 begins with, “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.” He had just delivered a message from God to the Ninevites and they had repented. Jonah was displeased with their response. Later Jonah is consumed by self-pity and sits outside the city to see what would become of it. Maybe God will change His mind and destroy them anyways. Could these have truly been his thoughts?
Mercifully, God causes a plant to grow and give him shade in order to save him from his discomfort. Still mercifully, God causes a worm to consume the plant in order to show Jonah the error of His ways. Can he find no compassion for others, only for himself? Would He allow God to pity him only or does God have the right to pity 120,000 people who in their ignorance turned from God and were ready to mourn and repent of their mistakes?
Jonah was short sighted to say the least, but he was also offended. We cannot help to find humor in his temper-tantrum. God asked “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” and Job retorts, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” Alas, life is over.
We laugh and do well to contrast Jonah’s very selfish perspective to God’s very compassionate one, but, you know, I have been there. I have even lived there for a couple of days.
Oh my friends, let us not fall prey to this offense when God asks for us to transition to new things. It is uncomfortable, sometimes, as uncomfortable as the scorching heat, but God has a compassionate plan that may have little to do with our comfort. Whether the next step is greater, or lesser, defined or undefined, we must give God permission to ‘mess up our lives.” He does have the bigger picture in mind and His mercies are for others in the same ways that they are for us.