Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bib 451: Jonah 4:5 and the rest of 1 Chapter

So, today I actually participated in two races.  The first was a 5K race in which my 12 year old got second in his age group.  I am (and all the rest of my Back on My Feet teammates and our whole family all are) so proud of him.  That was the race at 7:30 this morning.  For me, it was a nice jog, but it was already hot and humid.  So, when I ran the race I was really planning to run at 8:30 (after a brief rest), I had a race that was okay but not quite what I had hoped for.  My bib number in the second race (my race) was 451.  Maybe, this is stretching the intent of my bib number to Bible verse linkage, but I found that Jonah 4:5 and the rest of 1 chapter (I've used the 4:5 and 1) really does help me to put today in perspective a bit.

Taken from the New American Bible Revised Edition, the verses follow:
5 Jonah then left the city for a place to the east of it, where he built himself a hut and waited under it in the shade, to see what would happen to the city.  6 Then the LORD God provided a gourd plant. And when it grew up over Jonah’s head, giving shade that relieved him of any discomfort, Jonah was greatly delighted with the plant.  7 But the next morning at dawn God provided a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered.  8 And when the sun arose, God provided a scorching east wind; and the sun beat upon Jonah’s head till he became faint. Then he wished for death, saying, “It is better for me to die than to live.”
But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry over the gourd plant?” Jonah answered, “I have a right to be angry—angry enough to die.”  10 Then the LORD said, “You are concerned over the gourd plant which cost you no effort and which you did not grow; it came up in one night and in one night it perished.  11 And should I not be concerned over the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot know their right hand from their left, not to mention all the animals?”
In the entire book of Jonah, the prophet almost always seems to have a different view of what should be happening than God does.  The end of the book of Jonah (which these verses represent) are no exception.  In particular, this is a set of verses about things definitely not turning out the way someone expects.  Today's race was not what I expected.  I could like a whole host of reasons why not.  The heat. Recent tiredness.  Putting on a few pounds since my best races this spring.  Still the hamstring, although that really wasn't an issue today.  Having at least jogged the 5K before the 10K.  But, when all is said and done, it could just be that it wasn't my day.  I knew that at some point I could not continue to run consecutive personal bests.  And given how lightly I'd taken the last three weeks (since the hamstring strain), I really had now idea what to expect going in.  

A the end of the book of Jonah, Jonah challenges God and asks why he can't be angry.  God points out that Jonah is concerned about something that was an unexpected gift while God is concerned about something that is much more important.  In many ways, I can also see that in today's race.  Maybe today was not supposed to be about me.  Maybe today was mostly supposed to be about Joshua.  Maybe Joshua--as a developing almost teenager whose faith is still in much more of a formational stage--needs much more of God's attention than I do.  And, maybe I had begun to take the gift of the speed I was given, the desire I was given, and the opportunities I have been given for granted.  Perhaps today's outcome was just right in the eyes of God--getting me to refocus so that I can continue to work on my running.  I can use my running to improve myself and to contribute to others.  And by working with Joshua for all 30 minutes and 24 seconds from when we passed the starting line to when we crossed the finish line, I did exactly what I was supposed to accomplish today--even if it wasn't exactly what I had planned

The key is to remember that God's plans are often bigger and always more important than my plans and it is his will that should be done, not mine.  A bit of a tangent at this point, but it often seems to come back to the serenity prayer.   

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