Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the LORD said, “Do you do well to be angry?” – Jonah 4:3,4
Wound in God’s mercy
I sat beneath the shade
Of His surprising blessing
At peace with all He made.
But worm and wind unwound
In sickness unto death
Stripping self to the ground
Begging for my last breath.
God queries my quarrel
With compassionate questions—
Rhetorically leading me to the moral
Defeated in Grace’s suggestions.
And now on a hill, hung up in alienation
I see how God’s mercy makes for reconciliation.
(c) Randy Edwards
artwork: from The Story of the Bible by Charles Foster (Illustrations by F.B. Schell and others)
Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” Jonah 3:4
He preached to Nineveh’s proud, hardened heart
Both to high and low in station and in rank,
And hearing and humbled they rent garments apart
They fasted in sackcloth, neither feasted nor drank.
The mighty King of Nineveh in ashed humility
Cried out for mercy from Jonah’s God alone.
And hearing his cry, God in mercy received
Forgiving his violence, his prodigal o’erthrown.
For forty days I walked here bewildered
To this wicked, foreign, unwelcoming land,
Having spent mercy’s portion from justice delivered
How forgiven again? How received by his hand?
What king will pay out the forgiveness I seek?
Whose righteousness redeem this rebel become weak?
artwork: Jonah Preaches in Nineveh Gustave Doré (1832-1883)
The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. – Jonah 3:6
A king for a city
Sits in rent sackcloth and ash
Cut to the quick, crying
To allay the overturning crash.
What King for me
Would do the selfless same?
Would be sold and overturned
in humiliation and shame?
What King for Me? was originally published on Grace Presbyterian Church
Jonah 2:6 I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God.
Sad in sloth and shut in by my longing’s fear
I stepped down into the belly of the boat.
Embittered by the Grace which moves the spheres
My battlement’s barque kept resentment afloat.
But now I am sunk, ‘neath a flood of despair
Drowned in darkness, in death cut off from life.
The bars of whose doors beyond which no prayer
Can reach the Relief who gives succor in strife.
This idol-regarder, this rebel now routed
Surrenders, no conditions to demand.
This sinner is remembered, the hider now outed–
Returned and redeemed, spouted onto dry land.
Offering my thanksgiving I’ll keep my word
Salvation belongs, not to me, but the Lord.
artwork: Jonah Cast Forth By The Whale, by Gustave Doré.
The Land Whose Bars Closed was originally published on Grace Presbyterian Church
Jonah 1:1-3 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.
Out of the depths of unapproachable light
Came the Word to Galilee’s Jonah who
Begrudgingly waited in Gath-Hepher’s night,
And hearing, arose–off in fantasy flew.
Descending in a run to Joppa’s bustling quay,
He trolled the tugs of resentment’s satisfaction.
Boarded and stowed sleeping sadness away
When Reality presses in piercing diffraction.
The Light punched in darkness; Peace brought the storm;
No tactful backing, no escape, only through–
Till the castaway’s will is tossed overboard
And washed by the flood, untwisted, made true.
Awash in the sea God’s messenger drowns.
The only way out is in, the only the way up, down.
(c) Randy Edwards
artwork: Peter Paul Rubens