My life is busy. Just this weekend, I juggled 3 teaching enagagements, my daughter's 7th birthday party, an entrepreneurial pitch to potential investors, 2 additional meetings with staff, a local football game with the family, a national conference call, assessing, insuring and registering our vehicle, and coordinating a men's event called the Turkey Bowl, all while hosting inlaws in our home. Needless to say, there was more than one occasion where I felt frustrated, anxious, and angry. I feel constant pressure to perform as a husband, father, pastor, coach, and community leader.
For the past month, our Gospel family has been studying an Old Testament book of the Bible called Jonah. In this book, we read of a rebellious and racist prophet who continues to run from the very God that has called him. In his journey, he is consistently pursued by the relentless love of the Father. In the final chapter of the book, God asks Jonah the simple question, "Do you do well to be angry?" In short, Jonah justifies his anger and the book ends on a seemingly hopeless note while Jonah remains frustrated with the grace that God shows to a cruel and unruly group of people.
"Do you do well to be angry?" God asks.
I have discovered trends in the times my anger seems to manifest itself. I get angry when others do not live up to the unrealistic and unspoken standards that I have created. When my own children misbehave, my blood pressure rises. When those I lead organizationally fail to follow through, I quietly make a tally mark in their mental files of personal wrongdoings.
Does it make you angry when good things happen to those who don't seem to deserve it? My good friend Ryan Mayfield says, "We don't get grace because we deserve it, we get grace because we don't."
Yesterday, I watched a woman named Sarah lead a visually impaired couple into our Sunday worship gathering. She was patient and caring. Her simple acts of love and compassion moved me. I watched as she gently led the couple to the communion table and then enjoyed eating the bread and drinking from cup together with them after prayer. That evening, My wife and I had the pleasure of having that same couple in our home for dinner and conversation. I watched as they enjoyed the simple pleasures of food and laughter over storytelling. The wife's name was Dana and she told me how thankful she was to have been born blind because the first person she would ever see would be none other than Jesus.
For the anger I have felt hidden deep below the surface, I repent. For the times when I have taken others for granted, I repent. For the times I have expected my family and my leadership team to live up to some unrealistic standard that I have set for myself and for them, I repent. Instead, today I choose grace. You see, I am Jonah. In some ways, we are all Jonah. The good news is that we all are being relentlessly pursued by a loving Father who longs for us to understand the grace that he offers, despite our leanings toward busyness, importance, and the unrealistic standards that we set for ourselves and others.
As we begin this Thanksgiving week, let us remember and be thankful for this grace that relentlessly pursues us.