I got my first chance of the season to see our middle son, Jonah, at junior league football practice today. (This is him as a Trojan last fall – we don’t have our new team’s jerseys yet.) Jonah doesn’t make me happy. He brings pure joy to my life. I can easily say that because I believe true joy comes from appreciating the ups and downs in life. Let me tell you a little about my Jonah – perhaps you have one like him, too.
Jonah is perfectly and divinely named after the Jonah of the Bible. We had several names on the table when he entered our lives nearly ten years ago, and this one suits him….to a tee. Do you know much about Jonah of “and the whale?” You can find the story in the Bible (he’s got his own book, Jonah) or you can sneak a recap and refresh right here.
He’s quite a character, Jonah. You see, he was under the impression that he knew better than even God. When he didn’t want to do what he was told to do, he came up with his own plan and went the other way. He was stubborn and it took a while for him to finally admit that he didn’t have the answers, that he was *gulp* wrong. He was repentant. He was sent on his way, God’s way, to fulfill his mission. But even after all his lessons, he was still moody and even uncooperative.
But the thing about Jonah was that he wasn’t just some stubborn sulker, he a prophet – a person called by God to share his Good News. God CHOSE Jonah to go and tell. There was something about him that God used, I think it was his persuasiveness, his appeal to the people. If VeggieTales is to be believed, he was quite popular in the cities where he traveled, because he had “a message from the Lord.” (in my best Archibald Asparagus voice).
Our Jonah is quite friendly, a real people person. He’s fun and unpredictable. He takes chances. He’s a goof. He also has a huge heart and includes the new kids. He’s a defender of the weak. He’s passionate and believes in standing up for what’s right. (Did I mention that he’s not yet 10?) He loves Jesus and is the first to tell others about Him. Jonah is athletic (football and basketball) and smart (A’s and B’s). All things that a parent would beam and brag about.
And then there are the traits that also make him a Jonah. He’s stubborn…oh, so stubborn. Jonah belies, emphatically, in justice. Good, right? Yes and no. EVERYTHING has to be fair. FAIR! Just like our biblical Jonah was more than a little miffed that God wanted to save the Ninevites, our Jonah is not jazzed when people don’t get their come-upins. He will sulk. He will go his own way. But, oh aren’t we so blessed that God grants us grace and uses our “weaknesses” to His glory? God used that Jonah and He uses and will use our Jonah to share His love and forgiveness.
If joy is found in contentment – finding joy in any circumstance – then Jonah is a major source of joy for me. Whether he’s being a football rockstar (like today) or he’s pushing my patience to the limit, I’ve been given the AWESOME responsibility of raising a Jonah. That’s joy unspeakable!