I read an overview of the book of Jonah tonight which gave me a revelation;I justhad to write about it. I'd always wondered how Jonah could be so upset at the love of God, at His mercy, so as to run in the opposite direction, delay his calling (which I could see myself calling an honour), and then complain to God when people receive forgiveness? In my mind, the receiving of forgiveness, although often painful and overwhelming due to the fact that it's so undeserved, is a beautiful phenomenon, which I long to see in so many people. 'Why only So many people ' you might ask, and not the whole world? Surely that's what I want too, right?
In simple terms, yes. Given the alternative is unbearable suffering for all eternity, of course, YES I want everyone to experience the love and forgiveness of Christ. But what about that one person who makes work difficult, or I fell out with years ago, or the person who doesn't know how lucky they are, or even the ones we would call 'not very nice people' in no uncertain (or even 'Christian') terms. Jonah was sent to the enemy of Israel, Assyria. They exploited Israel and made life horrid for them, as well as being proud, immoral and countless other things. They didn't deserve God's love!
We can all look back now and sigh, amused at Jonah trying to fight God, knowing it's pointless; but what if He asked you, right now, to go and tell someone you deeply, incessantly dislike? Sometimes I ask myself how is one person so able to annoy me? How can my mood change so quickly from happy to the character in the new Pixar film, Anger? I certainly wouldn't consider that to be an honourable mission.How can God's love and peace which sometimes reign in out heart so beautifully evapourate like water over boiling oil, all in the blink of an eye? And yet, people do create these reponses, leading us to take preventative measures, such as crossing the road away from someone, not making eye contact. We criticise people as an outlet, a way to'blowoff steam' after an undesireable encounter,and makejokes about what we would like done to people as their payback. We even justify such actions, telling God it's too difficult;How can they push our buttons, or act like that and expect to be loved? Forgiven? How can God expect us to love them? Surely 'Love thy neighbour' CAN'T include them, that's just too difficult! They don't deserve God's love!
But neither do we.
God dragged Jonah literally from the bottom of the ocean to where He wanted him to be. Life is a warzone, it's never easy, but with God, anything is possible. He doesn't leave us ill-equipped; He has a whole army of angels surrounding us when we need it (2 Kings 6:16).So why don't we try and imitate Jesus? Can it be more costly than His sacrifice? A few minutes of discomfort for eternal salvation, happiness and love?Ask God to show us where we make excuses, and findexceptions, people we don't have to give His love too,even in the smallest of thoughts, and the smallest of ways.Ask to change. Make the effort to carry it through; stay on the same side of the road, make eye contact, pray for peace in spirit when you want to go bull to red flag, even if youonly want to make a one line comment. If you say it to anyone, say it to God, then listen for His wisdom and peace.Pray.Pray that they might see God, even when you want them to see the Devil over them with just desserts. Try and make this a habit, not just a conscious decision. Let's work towards the day when bearing through people's messy (and annoying) lives is taken automaticallyin the stride of grace.
I often find music helpful, so if you can, listen toTenth Avenue North, singing the songLosing, which I think gives us a brilliant motivation to do just that.
Brutally honest, cutting to the chase. Excellent.
Oh, and, Ouch. Definitely needed to hear this today, she said, after having lost her temper on the phone with tech support. ..
pray for peace in spirit when you want to go bull to red flag. LOVE that... I should print that out and tape it on my wall... or my forehead.
Oh, and to CB!