a tiny house and a giant fish
For my birthday, Ben surprised me with a little weekend trip to the nearby small-town of Talkeetna. He told me it was a “relaxing” getaway. Ben has never planned, prepped or packed for our family trips. He assumed this would be no different. Nothing says “relax” better than doing all of the planning and prepping and packing for the surprise trip that your husband booked. And so began my weekend of paradoxes...
We rented a tiny house that ended up being too big. It had two cute little loft rooms but, of course, our kids wanted to sleep in our loft with us. So to get the full tiny-house experience we all shared one tiny bed.
We visited Denali National Park for a day of hiking. The drive turned out to be a little longer than we expected. So, in the end, we drove six hours for a 1.7 mile hike.
Nothing about the weekend turned out like we expected it would. When we’re in a situation that turns out differently than expected, we’re left with the choice of how to respond to it. Let’s be honest - our initial response is usually a negative one.
With our kids (and with Ben and me too), we use the phrase “change your attitude” constantly. And how thankful I am for that little concept.
On our drive up to Denali National Park, our attitudes started going downhill at about the 2-hour mark. It was cloudy, we didn’t have many snacks left, and the construction was causing hour-long delays. Bad attitudes are contagious, so by the time we got to our destination, we were all grumpy. Our hike ended with two crying kids and none of us even cared that the sun came out.
But as we started the drive back to Talkeetna, through Denali, Ben and I decided to change our outlook (and literally look out) - we knew we were going to be stuck in the car for the next 2.5+ hours, so we decided we were going to enjoy the scenery the whole way back.
It’s funny really. Isn’t this exactly what God is calling us into daily, just as we’re calling our own kids into it daily. The Greek word for “repent” is metanoia - and it literally means to change your thinking. Change your perspective, mindset, your belief // CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE.
When God tells us to repent and believe (Mark 1:15), it’s not just so we can have eternal salvation when we die. It’s so we can truly live right now.
If we hadn’t repented and changed our attitudes, our drive back through the mountains would have been filled with anger, hanger (which is far worse than anger), and yelling (or worst of all : silence). We would have missed out on a beautiful moment. Not to mention some beautiful views (I’ll let the pictures below speak for themselves).
I’m reminded of a Bible character that was being taught this same thing, and I think he is sometimes misunderstood :: Jonah. When you hear Jonah, you don’t think “Jonah the guy with the bad attitude,” do you? You think “Jonah the disobedient!” We were all taught this story when we were little - if you disobey, you have to be punished. Just look at Jonah - he disobeyed and got eaten by a fish!
Well, that’s not quite the purpose of the story.
Quick history lesson :: Nineveh (where God told Jonah to go), was the capital of the Assyrian Empire (2 Kings 19:36) // the Assyrians were Israel’s greatest enemy. They warred against the Israelites, destroyed their cities, took their people captive, and brutally tortured/murdered them.
God wanted to show mercy to the Assyrians. God was acting differently than Jonah expected. Jonah, like many ancient Israelites, expected God to reject his enemies.
Most of us tend to expect God to be on our side and to be against our enemies. And remember what happens when things go differently than we expect? Our attitudes go downhill. Which is exactly what happened with Jonah.
He ran away from what God was inviting him into. He ended up on a boat, got thrown off the boat, was eaten by a fish, and then was saved by God from the fish.
God gave him another chance to change his thinking and join him in a beautiful story of reconciliation, redemption and restoration. But even after the people of Nineveh turned from their evil way and received God’s love, Jonah refused to have a good attitude about it. Jonah was still stuck in his expectations. He wanted God to hate his enemies, not love them.
But our God is so good that He even loves our enemies.
God says to Jonah a few times : “do you do well to be angry?” - and I think that’s what God is saying to us too.
Do you do well to be angry? Or do you want to take the opportunity to repent - change your thinking - and join God in a beautiful story of reconciliation, redemption and restoration?
And, if you're wondering, YES I have a children's version of this story available as well! Just click the button below to get to it!