Jonah 4:6a “Then the Lord God provided a vine…”
The vine seems a bit odd doesn’t it? It literally came up out of nowhere. It sprang up overnight, and died the next day. We were not expecting it. Neither was Jonah. He did not plant it, water it, or nurture it—he simply enjoyed the shade. And Jonah was very angry when it died.
So why did a vine grow here, as opposed to a fig tree or something else? More than one meditation could be given on the vine, but I cannot shake this thought: in the Old Testament, the vine is often used as a symbol for Israel. It is a negative image for Israel (e.g. Jer 2:21; Ezekiel 15). Is the vine a commentary of Jonah’s conduct? Maybe not, but sometimes it is good simply to sit with the Word and wonder…
Perhaps the vine is just a reminder of how we can become so attached to things that were never ours to begin with. We can latch on the idea of how “life is supposed to be” or that church should be “a certain way.” We do not want to let go of a routine or habit or tradition – and may the person who wants to change something that we don’t agree with beware! We get mad at someone who wants to go in a different direct than we do; or we think someone else is “wrong” in the way that they do things, when in reality their way is simply different; or we are angry when someone else does not live up to our expectations.
What do you hold onto tightly? [Pause.]
* * *
The vine: here today, gone tomorrow. All we can do is give thanks for the gift while we have it. After all, what is really yours? What really belongs to you? Your home? Your money? Your health? Your child’s career path? Another person? No, all these things belong to God. One day they will all return to the hand of God from which they came.
Deep down, we know this.
So why do we try to control things that don’t really belong to us?
…What are you resisting letting go of?
If there is one thing that is truly ours, it is this: our sin. No one else is responsible for them; they are our own failings. The irony is that the one thing that is truly ours is the one thing that we are truly thankful to have Jesus take away.
Father, may we not hang on so tightly to the gifts that You give us. Help us to see that they are not really ours; we just enjoy them for a season. May we use them all for your glory. Free us from a resistant heart and a stubborn spirit. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.