“Give a man a mission and get out of his way.”
I like it. It makes simple sense; though maybe original intent is for a young man. Even so, I sense the purpose. I can use my words to name a particular mission. It’s my mission. But in real life, like Jonah, I’m argumentative and ungrateful and I’m a poor example of a prophet.
Really? You’re talkin’ ‘bout someone else. Are ya’ sure? I really don’t wanna go to Nineveh…Jonah whines. I’m in the dark inside a monster fish. I’m afraid of the chaos I’ve come from and I will see. My response calls for courage . . . my weakness and the journey requires emotional surrender to accepting I alone cannot manage the chaos. I must go to the deep dream inside me. In the real world there’d be a high failure rate. Where on the dry land will the monster vomit me out?
It was my purpose to be a parent and Father. I, the young man I was, knew it. It was my purpose to support my children with the beloved I chose, with the beloved who chose me. That is what I worked for. As a young man I was unconscious of it; now mature I know it; I’ve lived it. Yes, I was in love, I was married, I moved to a new place, to the place of her people, an unknown place. It was my unconscious sense I was alone as if no loved ones cared for me; I did not trust. Now I’m the father of two well adjusted grown children, with God’s help.
Today I do not know. And God in me, calling me, the mission that bubbles up in me, is risky. I know the risks; my world now is not secure. I’ve experienced human reactions to me. I’ve experienced human reactions to my God sense calling me. My marketable skills are legion in an economy driven by rare skills. You wanna do what? Really? And Jonah in me is disappointed and arguing, and being mulish.
You’re talkin’ ‘bout someone else. I really don’t wanna go to . . . you fill in your whatever.
I want journeymen with me this time. In the Jonah myth, the tale is told as if only Jonah and God are in communion acting among His wayward chosen. I see Jonah’s behavior and relationship with his Higher Power. Jonah chooses to be alone. Jonah flees. Jonah tells accusing shipmates, throw me overboard. Jonah finds himself inside a fearsome monster fish: chaos. Jonah prays and gives thanks and God redeems His prophet. The monster vomits Jonah out in Nineveh. Jonah prophesies in Nineveh with a vengeance. God does repent and God does redeem even whiners like Jonah.
What is my journey? I will not run from my purpose. I will not say to my shipmates, “Throw me overboard.” I will not act as if I’m alone, as Jonah seems to have done. I will not act alone though; it’s more difficult, more complex, and lonelier. Who wants to be in the belly of a sea monster? Christ does not call us to act alone. Christ calls us to act with two or three. Christ teaches to act in love, not vengeance, with other seekers. Who will be with me on our journey?