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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 187: Intestinal Theology

Today's Reading: Jonah

I cannot count the times I've heard, read or preached on Jonah. Often the theme is reluctance to do God's bidding, the persistence of God or the power of repentance. I've even preached on the obedience of God's creatures as opposed to the obedience of God's people.

But today, with a fresh heart and a fresh reading, I saw a new theme in the book of Jonah.

As Jonah was being enveloped in the intestine of the sea and later in the slime and corrosive juices of a fish belly, an amazing trinitarian theology was lifted up in prayer.

From the depths of the grave I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.

I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.

To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you brought my life up from the pit,
O LORD my God.

The omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence of God is experienced even and perhaps, more acutely, in the gut wrenching vomit of our lives.

What is it about distress that turns us to God? Or perhaps a better question, why do we need the suffering to get our attention, to focus us so sharply...finally.

Whether we are God's reluctant prophets, God's obedient fish or God's enemies, God's grace seems to be relentless toward us. God rhetorically asks, "Is not every bit of my creation my concern? Should I not have pity? Should I not do all in my power to spare them?"

This incredible Hebrew word which speaks of God's great feeling which goes out toward one who is in trouble is at the essence of how our God is. It speaks to the loving kindness and tender mercy which are inescapable from God's being.

The inner compassion, the intestinal response of God arises from God's essential character.

And, man, is that a grace for us!

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