Well this morning, I am feeling a lot like Jonah. Our child from a "hard place" has been especially hard on us this past week. She has been so difficult that I really don't want to get her up this morning, because I know it could mean more of what we've already seen and heard way too much of in recent days. Those of you who don't live with a child who sometimes does everything in their power to make themselves unloveable, may not understand this, but trust me... while the idea of loving someone who does not want to be loved might sound heroic and romantic in theory, in reality... it vacuums (like a Hoover). There's no payoff or payback. It's pure obedience. And it's stinkin' hard. (And it also gives you a small glimpse of our Father's faithful love toward us when we were most unloveable.)
As Pastor Paul was preaching about Jonah, I was thinking, what a good message this is for my difficult child. (HA!) I was nudging her and pointing out the parts I felt like she should really pay attention to. Don't judge, you know you've thought about how perfect the sermon was for someone else too!
This morning I had the privilege of waking up at 4:38 and not being able to go back to sleep. This is what I get for applying God's word to someone else instead of myself. After an hour of tossing and turning, I gave up and got up. I was led to the text from Jonah that I thought was perfect for my child:
"Those who cling to worthless idols forsake faithful love... "
Kids from hard places often have lots of "worthless idols", things that they have a death grip on because they believe their very survival depends on it... it could be control, food, self-reliance, food, shame, food, negative beliefs and feelings, food. Yeah, food is a pretty obvious one around here...
And they prefer all of those idols to faithful love because... well... love is just plain dangerous.... why risk it?
But then I realized, my troubled child isn't the only one clinging to things that take her in the wrong direction, further away from God's best. It's me too. It's me saying to God, I don't want to
go to Ninevah show love and compassion to this child who calls me stupid and spits on me and throws things at my head. It's too hard, it's not worth it, there's no payback.
It's me! I'm no different than Jonah, or my precious daughter, clinging to my stubborn way, digging in my heels and saying I won't go. My idol. And suddenly I get it. Letting go of idols is hard and uncomfortable, and sacrificial. And you don't just let go once... it's a continual letting go. And I realize... if letting go is this hard for me, how much more difficult for a child who trusts NO ONE. Not a single human being and not God.
Jonah, didn't stop after the first part of that verse. He went on to say...
but as for me, I will sacrifice to You with a voice of thanksgiving. I will fulfill what I have vowed. Salvation is from the Lord!" Jonah 2:8-9
And so I, like Jonah, set my stubborn heart to do what I vowed, what God commands, because obedience brings blessing. I will do it Lord. I will obey... I will love, and leave the payback to You.
"But I will sing of Your strength and will joyfully proclaim Your faithful love in the morning. For You have been a stronghold for me, a refuge in my day of trouble." Psalm 59:16