Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh…” But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. (Jonah 1:1-3)
God had made it pretty clear to me that my then-fiancee and I should not get married. He did this through various means: four years of arguing, me having to solicit a proposal, a broken engagement, me having to implore a second proposal, friends suggesting that our relationship wasn’t healthy and that we perhaps weren’t good for each other, and then, you know, the nudging of the Spirit.
But I fled to my Tarshish, stifling the voice of God.
But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea… (Jonah 1:4)
But theLord sent a great wind, in the form of continued conflict and much pain and many tears and tempestuousness that kept us both off our bearings for years, struggling, feeling the effects of our choices.
Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 2:1)
This tells me something significant. This tells me that there is a plan. That God is always preparing. This gives me the distinct impression that we never really walk outside the will of God. That God sees all and knows all.
We had two children, he and I. Two children that are beautiful and amazing and gifts. Two children that came from our union, that came from our supposed “mistake”. Two children that were prepared to be created before time began.
This reassures me that God is not up there, looking down at us messing up our lives, and smacking himself in the divine forehead, muttering under his breath, “What am I supposed to do with THAT horrific choice?”
No. I believe he looks at us, all of us just trying to get by, just trying to do our best, sometimes veering so far off the path but not usually because we want to be, and he has compassion on us. He has great, great compassion on us. And he prepares things for us. And he takes our choices – that he knows are coming – and he weaves something gentle and gorgeous and redemptive.
Our lives may feel undone, messy, chaotic, un-divine. But they are not. We are not. We are seen. We are helped. We are shown grace. We are given second and third (and more) chances. We are helped. We are loved.
If this post helped you, I would encourage you to check out “Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage”, found here, or “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here.
Thank you for sharing your story, Elisabeth! Like you and many other women, I too was in relationship after relationship that God said “No”, but my stubborn self said “Yes!”. I am so thankful that my God is always there to pick me up when that stubbornness causes me to stumble and fall. He never gives up on us and will relentlessly pursue us.
Why do I forget that God doesn’t give up on us?? Thank you for the reminder, Liane!
YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW I NEEDED TO READ THIS TODAY!!! NO IDEA HOW SPOT ON THIS WAS FOR ME TODAY!!!
So, thank you! thank you!! thank you!!! I will continue through this day rejoicing that the Lord is working ALL THINGS for my good and His glory!!
And the nudging, the signs…were all clear as day to me too. As a matter of fact, I remember sitting in the college chapel weeping because I knew what God was asking me to do, and I made excused and continued down that path anyway. HE KNEW. And now, 25 years later, I know. Hard lesson to learn, but today my oldest son is registering for classes to begin his Junior year in college. God made a way where there was no way and is redeeming the time that the enemy tried to steal!! PRAISE GOD!!! What LOVE!!
I thank God for you today and for sharing this with me today!!
Kim, I am SO glad that this resonated with you today (especially because I almost didn’t write it). Thank you for sharing. -Elisabeth
Wow, I so see my life in all of this. Funny thing is, I just finished the study of Jonah a couple of weeks ago and I realized how much like him I am… Not always in a good way…LOL. I don’t like it that God is so willing to forgive “THEM”. Me of course…great, but not them! Um…. So sorry Lord! Thank you Lord you do not forgive as I forgive and Lord, continue to teach me to forgive like you!!
The good way I am like Jonah, vs 1:9 ” I am a Hebrew [for me Christian] and I worship The Lord, the God who made heaven and earth, who made the land and the sea.” Jonah was running from God and His word, but that didn’t change who he knew God is and who HE IS in God!! I run, I stumble, I fail, I disobey, but I AM HIS!! Amen!
Yes, Jan, we are HIS. Thank you for commenting. -Elisabeth
You are so right, Elisabeth. We cannot mess our lives up to the point where redemption is impossible, because nothing is impossible with God and He will work all things together for the good of those who love Him, for His glory, for the benefit of others and the advancement of His kingdom. We can at any time surrender to Him and get back into His path. So often when we make mistakes, we tend to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of it all, but God is not surprised. As you said, He prepared for all this before the world began.
Thank you for this encouraging reminder.
This is so honest… so beautiful. Thank you for your transparency, Elisabeth, and for sharing your heart with us.
The last paragraph got me… so touching and true.
“Our lives may feel undone, messy, chaotic, un-divine. But they are not. We are not. We are seen. We are helped. We are shown grace. We are given second and third (and more) chances. We are helped. We are loved.”
Beautiful Elisabeth – just beautiful.
Love this… “We are seen. We are helped.” Thanks for sharing!