Monday, December 26, 2011

Sometimes we can't see the writing in the sand until we are washed ashore

Is is really all about us? How many times have you woke up bright and bushy tailed only to have someone walk through the kitchen with a poor attitude? Then all of a sudden your smile parishes and now your attitude is like thick mud?

We often think more of ourselves then those around us. How do we know? It shows in our attitude. It shows in our actions. The sad accompaniment to our actions is that they rub off on those around us.

Look at Jonah. Yes, Jonah, the Prophet, the one called by God, who did what when called? He ran. He didn't want anything to do with Nineveh. Those people who lived in Nineveh meant nothing to him. But those people meant something to God. He wanted them to repent. He wanted to see them worship Him instead of their gods. But Mr. Selfish himself said no to God. In his one action of saying, "No, God", made the earth around him tremble.

When Jonah said no to God, he ran aboard a ship, filled with men. Men who needed God, but what did they see? A man running from God. Jonah's actions touched these men before him. As God caused the waters to roar, these sea faring men were in fear of their life. Okay, these men lived on the sea. They had seen storms before. For them to be in fear, this one must have been a monster.

Here they are calling upon their gods to save them and where is Jonah? Sleeping down below. Not a care in the world. He isn't thinking of his God, the men aboard the ship, nor the people of Nineveh today. How could he sleep in such peace? I have to ask myself the same question. At times there is so much going on around me and instead of being in prayer or reaching out to those around me, I high tail myself into my own little world and say, "Who cares. Let someone else take care of that." This is exactly what Jonah was doing.

But what catches my eye so greatly is the fact that after these men find Jonah and cast lots, Jonah, tells them to throw him off ship. They don't! Instead they try to row their way back to shore. These men, these unsaved men, heathens as Jonah would have called them, had more regard for Jonah, than this man of God, had for a whole city of people dying. How many of us have been aboard that same ship?

The storm isn't calming so the men throw Jonah off the ship and now the waters smooth and all is as it was before they ever saw the likes of Jonah. But everything was changing for Jonah now. He is in the belly of a big fish. Now, something that I find fascinating is the fact that the people of Nineveh worshipped a fish goddess called Nanshe and a fish god that was half man and half fish called, Dagon. The people of Nineveh were in for a big surprise as they realized there is a God bigger than the gods they are worshipping.

As Jonah is spit out of the big fish he had been in for three days, he would have a story to share with the folks of Nineveh. They would understand a fish story since they had been worshipping these gods. But still yet, as Jonah shares with these people, they repent. They see that there is a God and what does Jonah do? He gets angry with God for not punishing them?

The very grace that God showed to Jonah was just great, but the grace He was showing to the people of Nineveh was unjustified for Jonah. Did he really think he deserved God's grace more than they did? Did he really think his sin wasn't as big? How often to we judge those around us and find our sins to be small in comparison? Oh, I don't have enough time to count the accusations I have made, the judgements and claims of, "Well, maybe they deserve to sit in their shame for a while". How can we be so full of ourselves?

What I gain today is the fact that I need to see those very people around me, not through my eyes, but through God's eyes. I need to love those around me with His kind of love. When God calls me to speak, I need to speak. When He calls me to move I need to move on His behalf. There is always someone watching and waiting to say, "Hey, she isn't a Christian. Look at her actions." You know, to a point they are right. I am in no way perfect. I am a work in progress, just like Jonah. I fail and I fall hard. But I believe in a God who chooses to love me for me. I have faith in a God who washes me in His grace and covers me in forgiveness when I choose to walk a different way. He calls me back to Him just as He did Jonah.

Sometimes we can be slow learners. It took a ship, a storm, a big fish, a country of people, a plant and God's sovereign love to show Jonah that life wasn't about him, but all about God and His will for our lives.

"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in time of honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men."
Romans 12:9-17

Lord, as You wash me with Your forgiving grace daily, help me to do the same to those around me. Guide me in the right path and set before me, Your will. Give me the wisdom I need to serve You in every way and the understanding when I cannot see the end in sight. May I love those around me with Your love. I want to be so focused on You that when You call I hear and I will answer according to Your will for my life. Help me to be a witness those around me and may my walk with You shine before all men bringing honor and glory to Your holy name.
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