Do You Have Difficulty Loving and Forgiving Others?

Our small group just finished up on the book of Jonah. In all sincerity, the only information I had about Jonah was that a huge fish swallowed him. I never knew why.  Did Jonah get loose, or become fish food? The book is only a few pages but it’s an extremely powerful story. I never knew how we as Christians have so much in common with Jonah as difficult as it is to admit.
Has God called upon you to do something you didn’t want to do?  Have you ignored the call? Jonah was a prophet. God gave Jonah a mission to travel to Nineveh, inform them about God, and to get the Assyrian people to repent and seek redemption. Jonah hated the Assyrian people because of their heartless cruelty to the Israelites. He knew that God was a loving and forgiving God and didn‘t feel that the Assyrian people deserved mercy. Jonah decided to hide from God by getting on a ship in route to Tarshish. As I read this part, I wondered, Jonah’s a prophet and still he thinks he can hide from God? God, unrelenting,  intervenes in Jonah’s plan of escape by sending a storm and breaking up the boat. This you might say, is God’s wake up call.  Has God ever tried to get your attention? Has He broken something in your world to draw you back to Himself?
I honestly can’t say I’ve tried to hide from God, but I must admit there have been people in my life I haven’t wanted to pray for because I didn’t like them, or I didn’t feel as though they deserved forgiveness or redemption. Have you ever wanted to keep God’s grace to yourself rather than sharing it with those you felt were less deserving? Ouch!  These are the storms that God may have sent to help bring closure or peace in your heart. God is asking us to step out in obedience. We may not understand what His intentions are, but we should realize God has a plan for us and will challenge us to do something we don’t want to do.
God asked me last year to serve in the Youth Ministry (high school girls) at our church. “No, thank you,” I said. “I’d rather serve on the worship team.” But God was not letting me off the hook that easily. He continued to put youth ministry on my heart. I finally said to Him, “You know my past when I was a teenager. I hardly think I‘d be a suitable example.”  But that was His point. I would have empathy. I could sense the battles these girls were experiencing because I had been one with a history I‘m not too proud of, but if it could help save these girls from the mistakes I made, maybe, just maybe, something positive could come out of my shame.  And so I serve,  and I love it.  God knew what He was doing.

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