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I have to admit that I laughed when I read Miss Ruth’s post on whether or not we see each other around our own world view. I do not change directions easily.  I don’t think I’m narrow-minded but my brain seems to hard wire things.  This is X.  That is Y.  When I find out that I had it backward, it takes me a few minutes to reorient my brain.

Yesterday our Bible class was discussing Jonah.  Pastor Sean pointed out how important it is for us to understand that the Israelites saw the sea, any sea, as chaos.  The giant fish?  A beast of chaos.

As much as I loathe water and swimming, I would have remembered this if I had ever heard it before. It so fits my world view!

But my grandad grew up on Biloxi Bay.  He was a bay life guard and swam in the ocean, the ocean that scared me silly.

My great uncles on the other side were river fishermen.  My grandmother and aunt pointed out that out often.  “Fishermen, Susie.  Just like the apostles.”  For my family, the fact that they were fishermen made them, and faith, that much more accessible.

Chaos?  Really?

The problem with this mental reversal was that I was teaching the class.  Not the best time to sit there and reorient your world view.  Fortunately, most of them have known me since I was 12.  Chaos.  I had it backwards?  One tiny step forward but still not wise.

–SueBE

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This may be one of my all time favorite Bible verses and it has only become more so after a God moment I experienced this week.

My friend and I are once again preparing to teach adult Sunday school.  Our class uses two sets of material.  One consists of pamphlets put out by a religious press.  They cover a wide range of topics from the Lord’s Prayer to the Kings.  While I try to tell myself that I’m okay with them, 90% of the time they feel like an educational snack.  There’s just enough there to make me want more.

The other set of books are the ones produced by the Presbyterian Church USA for women’s Bible study. My friend and I chose the 2007/2008 study that taught Jonah and Ruth.  We tend to like these books so we didn’t really look at it.  We already knew there would be almost more information than we could use.

Thursday I flipped it open and read lesson 1.  Some scholars believe that both Ruth and Jonah were written after the Babylonian captivity.  That is why both books are strongly anti-foreign, an issue that God addresses with Ruth and Jonah and the author addresses in the study.

This study may be 10 years old but it is still needed today.  Thank you, Lord, for leading us to it.

–SueBE

Everywhere you turn, somebody is reminding you how many things there are to worry about. Even my favorite weather site this morning declared in bold font – “Breaking Now…  LATEST: Widespread Severe Threat!”

Doesn’t say what or where.  Just:  Worry!

As it turns out, the breaking news is that here in New Jersey, there’s a heat wave going on.  Shock!  Horror!  Will we find the tank tops in time?  Will our flip flops still function?  Are there enough ice pops in the freezer? Whatever will we do?!?

But things have always been like this, haven’t they?  Everybody’s got something to deal with that could cause a general sense of anxiety.

Take Jonah, for example. He’s the poor fellow from the Bible who was stuck in the belly of the whale for three nights. After Jonah prayed for mercy, God commanded the fish to vomit him back onto dry land.  Lovely!  I looked at the way it was phrased.  “God provided a large fish and it swallowed Jonah.”  Hmm.

Later on in the book of Jonah, we learn that God “provided a plant for shade,” then “provided a worm to eat the plant.”

Then He “provided a scorching east wind.”

I re-read that passage.  It doesn’t say, God smote Jonah by sending a vicious worm to ruin his ever-loving day and a raging wind to give him a wicked sunburn.

No, it said “provided.”  Not exactly a care package from home with brownies in it!

So could it be that the things we see in our lives as negative are really another way that God provides for us?

But what is it that we gain from horrible – in Jonah’s case, even epic – misfortune?

During difficult times, my faith has often deepened.  I’ve also learned that going through challenges reminds you that others are facing hard times too, and that if you can help somebody else, you should.  Others may be dealing with their own whales, worms and wind, and maybe you’re the conduit through which God has chosen to provide relief for them.

All the things you’ve been through may well be the training you need to step up when called and commissioned. And I can tell you from experience, it’s a gift that goes both ways to be a blessing to someone else.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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