Have you ever felt like your emotions are packed inside of you tighter than a canned ham? Boy, I have. I don’t know why we keep quiet when we should open up and speak our truth, stand our ground, and express our opinion. I think it is to not offend. Or sometimes we think it will cause an issue we are not ready to defend or even deal with. It’s hard stuff. It takes more energy to keep things stuffed inside than it does to defend a verbal war if it causes one! Of course, some things are better left to silence. God instructs us in wisdom in those things. We have to learn to grow and pick our battles well.
During the silent times I like to contemplate my position. Sometimes I tell God in my heart that I am upset, offended, hurt, and confused. This works for awhile and even calms me to the extent that I can continue for a bit longer feeling like that canned ham. Sooner or later, though, like when water becomes too tightly contained, the dam has to break open! Before I know it, my “stuff” is flowing out all over the place. It’s all of the hurts, the upset feelings, the dealings with the past that felt so familiar, and everything in between. I mean, it had no where else to go right? Hmm.
It’s not a new concept; you know, to suddenly burst with a fit of frustration. They did this in the Old Testament days as well. In grief, frustration, in loss, and confusion, they tore at themselves because it seemed like there was just no where else to go with all that emotion. In fact, they ripped their own garments and it even got more graphic.
“When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled.”
I never personally experienced wanting to pull my own beard, for lack of having one, but I sure know what it is like to suddenly sit down completely appalled! When I read the quote above from the book of Ezra, it seems almost uneventful at first. Try to picture this scene. A man heard difficult news and suddenly he could take no more so he tore his clothing, and pulled his own beard! You have got to know this man had a belly aching shout or groan in there somewhere or what would be the point?
As time when on we can move forward to the prophet Joel where he tells us to “rend our hearts and not our garments”. He presents to us a vision of opening up and tearing our hearts out to God. Do you think this is done silently? That’s not the visual I get. I think rending my heart means to let it all out and not hold anything back! To me it means moans, groans, and belly aches!
“Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”
I just love this concept because God gives us the picture of Him being a safe place to rend our hearts open. I think we can safely say we can go to Him and absolutely let ourselves burst open with all of our frustration, anger, upset feelings, wounds, and heartache. Instead of being met with another person’s anger, God meets us with his love, and His compassion. I love where the scriptures say that “he relents from sending calamity”. To me this means that God will listen and won’t fight with me like a person might! I mean, I can say whatever I want and God knows my heart enough to meet me with safe compassion and understanding. He knows I will calm down eventually and He also knows that this release gives me healing and strength when it is over. Venting to God is what I call “going belly up” and its the most productive venting there is.
Speaking of bellies. Let’s take a spin into the story of Jonah and the whale. As the story goes, Jonah was avoiding things; mainly his calling. He was to be sent to Nineveh with a message from God Himself. The poor prophet could just feel a nasty confrontation coming on. Oh, how he wanted to just run, hide, and keep it all bottled up! I could totally see myself doing that, can you? Then God lets him get swallowed up by a whale and there he was with all of his bottled up stuff inside that belly.
Can you imagine from the whale’s perspective here? Nothing more icky tasting than a whining prophet stuck down in there to make a whale feel quite ill! I’m sure that whale was quite relieved to get that out of his gut! I figure Jonah was in no paradise either, churning around inside a whale who now feels he is getting ready to just vomit! As you can read, vomit he did!
“And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.”
Ewe! The problem was resolved though. The whale got someone out of his gut and Jonah went into the city of Nineveh and let the message of God out into the open where it all had to land! I bet they were both relieved. No more whining prophet in the gut and no more stuck message in the prophet! Talk about an amazing way to go belly up! God is amazing, huh?
I guess I better get to the point of the message here. Sometimes it is better to just go belly up with God and let His compassion take care of the issues rather than wait until it is so sickening inside that the Lord has to assist you in vomiting it out to get some relief. Either way you will get relief. Either way is alright too! It all depends on what you feel you need. I mean sometimes a good verbal vomit to God gets the job done. I would like to think of a cleaner way to put it and to do it, but I think this way kind of fits.
The Lord is a compassionate safe place to let out our frustration and no tearing of the clothing or anything else is really needed. We can also go belly up with Him and not wait until the stuff is so sickening that we end up in a verbal vomit situation. I know this might be a strange way to put it but I have learned that I really like to cut to the chase and tell it like it is. As I told one of my friends, and now she echos, “I’m not your Mama’s minister”! Oh, I’m demure and unassuming in my own right, but when I have to go belly up with God because of the stink that is brewing inside of me; get out of my way because I intend to give Him all I’ve got! I know that His mercy and strength will come afterward. He is gracious and causes no calamity in the process.
I come out roaring and better for it. Instead of weakened by the wounds and issues stuck deep inside, God fills the holes with Holy Spirit. Instead of feeling like life has forced me down, I am instead a force to be reckoned with when the enemy comes creeping around me! That’s empowerment from God! It’s freedom at its finest moment!
Don’t ever be afraid to go belly up with God. He will meet you where you are and He will be compassionate. He will fill you with His Holy Spirit and the strength you need will always be there because He will supply you like no other force on earth. His love is deep and wide for you. He is a safe place to spew out your stuff, and maybe, just maybe, He will send you to a place like Nineveh to give His message to a people who need to hear Him!
Here’s to your belly up moments!
Pastor Jenine Marie Howry