I lie. I covet. I scream at my kids. I avoid the tough stuff for the easy way out. I cut corners. I grumble. I steal (whether it's joy, time, or material things). I shy away from sharing my faith. I ignore my husband's leading.
I'm not much of a shining example of holiness, am I? I ought to be ashamed of myself. And, do you know what? I am.
When I do something wrong, I am naturally reluctant to tell others about it--other than, occasionally (like right now!) in a very general sense. I guess I have this fear of rejection from those I love--this irrational fear of people being mad at me.
It took my husband a good three days to learn I'd been in a fender bender last year. And no, I didn't finally fess up--he spotted the dent and asked about it. This was not a shining example of marital harmony on my part, was it?
And do you know what? Sometimes I do the same thing with God. I'm reluctant to confess my sins because of how stupid they are, or how ashamed I am of what I have done. Maybe, I think, God is tired of listening to me confess my willful disobedience to Him. Maybe, the evil one whispers in my ear, God won't listen to my prayers anymore. Maybe He won't forgive me, won't restore me. After all, he knows (better than I do!) that I'm just gonna mess up again.
Yet these are not God's ways. It is time for me to learn a lesson of faith and trust in the Lord. And you will never guess where I learned it from last week.
From Jonah, the son of Amittai. Yes, that Jonah. The Jonah who directly disobeyed God's call. The Jonah who was swallowed by a big fish, then puked out three days later. The Jonah who, even after that experience, would have preferred a plant live than the entire population of Ninevah.
I never would have thought, going into this study, that I would have learned a lesson in being a positive child of God from Jonah - unless it were by doing the OPPOSITE of this prophet. Yet, listen to this.
Jonah 2:4 I said, 'I have been banishedAnd how about this?
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.'
Jonah 2:7 "When my life was ebbing away,Despite messing up and receiving God's punishment (and despite the fact that, before this "assignment" was over, he would disappoint the Lord once again), Jonah had faith that God loved him, that he would again see the holy temple, and that He would hear the prophet's prayers. Now that's assurance. And, of course, he was right. Otherwise, the book of Jonah would have only been a couple chapters long.
I remembered you, LORD,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
Now this is a faith I can use--and one I need to grab onto, no matter how much I screw up. Confessing my sins is not going to make the Lord mad at me, nor will it decrease (or increase, for that matter) His love for me. All I need to do is remember the Lord, and my prayers will rise to Him.
So, no matter how much, or how badly, I mess up, God is there and ready to listen and pull me out of the muck and mire of my sin. And I didn't have to spend three days in a fish's belly to accept it.
Heavenly Father, thank You for teaching me an important lesson through a sinful child of Yours. Thank You for showing me that reaching You in prayer isn't only for the perfect, but for sinners, and repeat sinners, just like Jonah - and me. Help me to turn to you immediately when I sin, without worrying that you will not listen, or get mad at me. And Father, help me to do the same with the people you have put in my path. I love You so, Lord. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
(Oh, and "stay tuned" for my next Jonah lesson - and no, I have NO idea what it will be, but am sure there will be one! - coming soon to a blog near you:D)