PAINFUL RIDES ON THE SHIP OF GOD

The missions of God are sometimes not on carriages of gold.  Not always might a divine ride seem pleasant.  Sometimes the safest way might be through the dusty path; and ‘destination’ is not the same for everyone even on the same road.  If we should judge divine approval solely by the pleasures of the ride we could miss some rides to Paradise.  Jonah rode in the slimy belly of an underwater ‘machine’ that God had sent to transport him to Nineveh.  It was no pleasant ride.  He called it an “affliction,” and it made him cry (Jonah 2:2), yet it took him to Nineveh where destiny was forever to announce his name.  It is true, though, that if he had not missed his first call, if he had not chosen first to flee, he might have had a better ride on a calmer sea than under it in the belly of a fish. 

When God posted Joseph on his diplomatic mission to Egypt (Genesis 45:5), the ride was with blistered feet in ugly chains (Psalms 105:17-18); his entourage were slave masters inferior in estate, sons of bondage from his grandmother’s bondmaid (Genesis 37:28).  His tender heart, brutally axed by brothers, marked bloody milestones along the desert route.  His flesh, racked with pains from chains, convulsed. His youthful face, furrowed with tears that seemed to dig more deeply than any plough he had known, dulled into sudden ugliness.  He watched helplessly as those brothers with their loot and lies gradually thinned away in the dusty distance.  He looked down through the tears at leg chains that seemed to link the present mercantile conspirators with his departed domestic schemers.  He lamented his sudden lot that was at strange variance with his published recent dreams of royalty and opulence.  Angels might then have smiled at the shallow tears through which he watched an apparently unkind world.  Painful as it was, that was the ride that took him to where destiny was forever to announce his name.

Sometimes the ride doesn’t matter as much as the destination.  ‘Better’ flights have sometimes crashed in the middle of the trip; and donkeys sometimes get where golden limos never will, with lavish hosannas as no king would ever have.  Not all royal rides have led to the place of God, and a cross does not always mean death.  Sometimes it is merely a different passage to Paradise.  Better a sure ride to Destination in the slimy belly of a fish, than a ride in the first-class cabin of a ship on the way to Abyss.  A good ride is good, but a good destination often matters more than the ride.  Safe trip, dear pilgrim, to Somewhere there.

May you not miss your ride on the chariot of Providence because you blindly badly judged the carriage unfitting as not of burnished gold (Exodus 16:1-3; Numbers 20:3-5).  And may you have unclouded eyes by which to tell and refuse golden carriages of death though they might bear the names of God.  Amen.

From The Preacher’s diary,
September 10, 2019. 

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