It’s amazing how quickly “I will go anywhere for you, Lord” can become “I will go anywhere BUT THERE, Lord.”
It’s amazing how quickly “What’s meant to be will be” can become “What I want to be cannot be” and so it becomes “What’s meant to be is clearly not for me.”
I’m going to say something sacrilegious, something that goes against every word of scripture I’ve ever read and praise song I’ve ever sung. I’m saying it because it’s how I feel, it’s where I am right now, and it’s what I’m fighting to understand differently.
God. Failed. Me.
Months ago, I prayed (if it be God’s will) a door would be opened for me. At that time, I fully trusted what was meant to be would be and God would come through for me. I prayed for wisdom and discernment about what would be the best choice. I prayed for God to lead the situation.
Time passed, and the door I had prayed for did not appear in time. (Instead, it was flung wide open weeks after it was too late for me to walk through it.) What I had wanted to be wouldn’t be, and so I was forced to walk through a different door.
And while I should have been able to see and trust God had something better for His glory in mind, it turns out His plan includes more pain, grief, and regret than I ever thought possible.
I feel lost in the crossfires of “Was God really in control of making the ‘right’ decision for me because I asked Him to lead?” and “Was this really my decision and He allowed me to make the ‘wrong’ choice?”
(In other words, was this really how it was meant to be or did I somehow intercept??)
I feel as though the Author of what is meant to be worked against me.
(You’re probably thinking this is just a spiritual tantrum because God did not act as my personal genie and grant my heart’s wishes. I’ll get back to you later on whether or not I agree.)
My prayer request was in line with everything I had come to learn about myself, learn about who I am to others, and learn about how He works over the last two years. I had wanted a door to be opened so that I might continue to grow and become the person I had discovered in that time.
But He thought differently for me.
Jonah had dedicated his whole life’s work to God and people. I’m sure in his life he had made plenty of heartfelt promises to go where ever the Lord led him. That was probably the case until Jonah was told to go to the one place he did not want to go.
1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
3 But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa,where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.
Jonah probably had plenty of reasons to feel the way he did about Nineveh. He might have tried to come up with good, solid rationale for why he would instead head to Tarshish. I can almost hear him:
- “The people of Tarshish need God just as much as the people of Nineveh.”
- “I prefer the culture of Tarshish over Nineveh’s anyway.”
- “There’s just nothing about Nineveh that screams ‘Welcome to Nineveh’ for me.”
- “I know I’ve heard God speak before, but this time I could have heard Him incorrectly.”
- “Nineveh is a lost cause. Why would God send me somewhere to fail, let alone struggle?”
As Jonah ran in the opposite direction, thinking he could outrun “what was meant to be,” What Was Meant to Be found him in the clearest, fate-spoken form of that time period.
4 Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. 5 All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.
But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. 6 The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”
7 Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”
9 He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”
10 This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)
There was no denying it now. God’s “meant to be” was clearly not what Jonah wanted. What is worse about this scene is that Jonah had to admit to disobeying the God he admittedly loved.
11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”
12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”
13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. 14 Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you,Lord, have done as you pleased.” 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.
17 Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Talk about the Lord failing you.
(Survey question: how do you think Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” applies to Jonah’s life at this point?)
(And more specifically, how can I believe Jeremiah 29:11 applies to my life when the plans God has now made known to me are causing me so much pain and despair?)
(And YES, I know everything I’m saying at this point is skewed by my perspective on the situation. I know I should be positive and so thankful and trust God’s “meant to be.”)
(And by the way: Welcome to your Nineveh, Val.)