the good life of His loving-kindness

 Jonah 2:8
"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs." (NIV)
"Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love." (ESV)
"Those who cling to worthless idols forsake faithful love." (Holman)
"Those who worship false gods turn their back on all God's mercies." (NLT)

Saying yes to one thing, means saying no to something else. We are faced with choices everyday. Some seemingly insignificant and others of great magnitude. Every choice, every step is walking in the direction in pursuit of Christ or a step backwards or maybe even in the opposite direction.

As I was reading through Jonah, 2:8 shouted at me and stopped me in my tracks. For my own life; for those who continue to cling to things of the world and neglect or ignore the things of God and His way of life. Why do we hold on to things we think are of value and importance so tightly in a closed fists? Because we are afraid of giving them up, letting them go; afraid we will missing out on something; afraid we won't be happy or complete without?

When I view the distractions and desires of my heart and mind as an idol that causes me to "forfeit the grace that could be [mine]" (NIV) or "forsake faithful love" (Holman) then I see them with disgust and want to aggressively uproot them! I want to walk in "hope of steadfast love" (ESV). The problem is I don't always view my sin through that lense; instead sin can just sometimes be distracting things that "I'm working through"; really making an excuse to let them linger around and entrap me further away from His loving-kindness. That's the deception and depravity of sin.

Jesus paid my ransom and redeemed me from sin's hold on my life and the penalty of sin that He took in my place. But I still choose sin at times. True repentance of sin is not in hopes of avoiding or removing consequences, to "feel" better, or to check a box, but a broken heart that is in opposition to a holy loving patient God who is worthy of our affection. When I cling to sin and idols I am neglecting His everlasting covenantal love He offers through the blood of Christ on the cross and His victory over death freeing us from all bondage, slavery, and judgment. Offering a redeemed, reconciled whole life, yet I still choose sin and forsake this.

You've probably heard the phrase that God's economy/kingdom is upside down. His ways are not only not the ways of this world, but also not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). What things the world regards to as "good life" usually consist of health, wealth, good looks, popularity, power, fame, material things, etc. We are made for more! To have life and life abundantly. This is not an term relating to material wealth, but spiritual health that will enrich lives more than any dollar or amount of things. Has to do with knowing God and believing Him (not just in Him, but Him Himself), glorifiying the King, finding satisfaction in Him, experiencing God's peace, enjoying God's presence, purpose, and plan for your life, knowing we are loved and welcomed inspite of our depravity and separation due to sin. Because of the cross we can have an abundant life - to know Him and be known by Him!

The word used in Jonah 2:8 as grace (NIV), steadfast love (ESV), faithful love (Holman), mercies (NLT) is the most amazing Hebrew word in the Bible: chesed. God's loving-kindness, everlasting, steadfast, unfailing, covenantal love. This has been my favorite word study of the enter old testament, the pages are filled with it. I long to know, experience, and walk in His chesed more and more, yet when I choose those idols I am forsaking that very loving-kindness I seek. May God's covenantal love be my focus, view, lense to which I see all things. This is the word that I've always wanted to get a tattoo of and someday, when I figure out where, I want it to remind me that His loving-kindness is more than anything else I could pursue, choose, or cling to.

Why do I choose things that are less fulfilling, that appeal as the "good life", that over-promise and under-deliver...because I am a work in progress, being sancitified everyday by Jehovah-mekoddishkem (The Lord who sanctifies you). I'm glad these are struggling issues because that means the work of Christ is waging war within me against my flesh. When things are removed from my life (Job 1:21) it's for God's glory and for my sancifitication. In the struggle, know God is pursuing and battling for your sanctification to be whole and complete in Him, for a different kind of "good life" He would have for you. He is jealous for you and does not want to share your hearts affections with anyone or anything. Struggle well...

"You are a tree that never would have rooted so well if the wind had not rocked you to and fro, and made you take firm hold upon the precious truths of the covenant grace." Watchman Nee

"What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give... We never imagine that getting our heart's deepest desires might be the worst things that can ever happen to's because our hearts fashion these desires into idols...If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller

These are some lyrics from an song long ago..."Good Life" by Audio Adrenaline:

Poverty has changed me view of what true riches are
Sorrow's opened up my eyes to see what real joy is
Pain has been the catalyst to my heart's happiness

What good would it be if you had everything
But you wouldn't have the only thing you need

This is the good life
I've lost everything, I could ever want, and ever dream of
This is the good life
I found everything, I could ever need, here in Your arms

"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord." Jonah 2:8-9