God’s Lemonade

I’m fresh off a study in my women’s group on the Book of Jonah– four short chapters long on drama!  It’s a story of God’s interruption in the life of a man who refused His call, rebelled and bolted, got rerouted and released on the shore with no choice but to revisit his mandate to preach repentance.

Could our group relate from lessons learned in our own lives!  I appreciated the honest sharing, citing second chances and divine interventions, recycled hardships and God’s unrelenting pursuit ( O Love that Will Not Let Me Go! ).  We remembered the choices of our own that set us on a wrong-way-course, or how another person’s actions impacted us, creating grief and sorrow.  And like Jonah, our stories also showed evidence of divine redirection—in short, what one group member called “God’s Lemonade”.

The Great Lemonade Maker
To be sure, when life hands us lemons, we’re often prone to mix them with a little vodka, (or pain –killing-avoidance-technique of choice!) and not surrender to the Great Lemonade Maker.  (Ephesians 1:11, Romans 8:28) With our limited perspective we question God’s intentions just as Jonah did.  He went through extraordinary means to avoid God’s call by getting on a ship and physically getting the heck out of there!  (Jonah 1:3) We do the same thing, only our distance is the one we keep in our hearts.(See Psalm 32)

But God went through extraordinary means as well.  He retrieved Jonah via a big fish, and deposited him at his mission’s doorstep (a little worse for wear, I dare say. See Jonah 1:17, 2:10) So Jonah decided to obey.  When the “But God!” intervention happens to us, we reluctantly do the same thing, not totally convinced that the outcome will be to our liking.

Fully Invested in Our Bias
So here’s our friend Jonah, fully convinced that the people of Nineveh would not change their ways and being okay with their impending doom.  His obedience to God’s directive to preach to them was in many ways, biased.   He betrayed his own self-will by stubbornly retaining that notion.  “He got a front row seat to enjoy the barbeque” as my husband says – and when the barbeque didn’t happen, Jonah got angry:

“God, Isn’t this what I told you would happen when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. God, take my life, it’s better for me to die than to live.”( Jonah 4:1-3)

In other words, “God, I’d rather be dead than see things your way!” Funny, how we can know the character of God, but still want to be the ones who dictate how He runs the universe.  We have no problem asking for grace for ourselves, and at the same time exercising judgment towards those with whom we disagree. (See James 3:9-10). We insist that others repent while we resist repentance of our own.

So, God brings lemons.  It’s a great analogy for how He uses the bitter to bring sweet healing.  Lemons are used for their disinfecting and cleansing properties – added to soaps they help clean more efficiently.  Added to our food, lemons are thought to help build immunities and fight free radicals, aid in digestion and are internal cleansers.  In the same way, if God sends lemons to us in the form of circumstances and situations that challenge our thinking, cause us examine our hearts and motivations, and bring conviction and godly sorrow,  it’s because, well… He wants to heal and cleanse us.  And He’ll use the bitter to bring out the sweet so we understand that His goodness extends not just to us, but to all He has made!  (Psalm 145:17-19)

Sweet Redemption
Isn’t that what redemption looks like?  The bitterness of the sin and separation we had from God was taken on the cross by Jesus, and the sweetness of fellowship with Him is made possible because of His death and resurrection.  If we can only look at lemons as God’s cleansing action, we don’t need to react by kicking and screaming and wishing we were dead.  We can be open to hearing His direction and not stay so invested in our own narrow thinking, and a whole new world of growth, peace and fulfillment will begin to bloom in our lives.

“No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”  Hebrews 12:11

God’s Lemonade is just the right juxtaposition of bitter and sweet -the bitterness of our sin and the sweetness of fellowship with Him made possible by His sacrifice and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Surrendering ourselves to the Great Lemonade Maker is a good thing; what is He speaking to you about today?

It’s raining lemons, hallelujah!  Taste and see that the Lord is good.

© 2012 Renee Dallas, WifeBoat.com

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