I know~Who, oh who, begins their blog post with a Veggie Tales movie trailer? (With hands raised, waving madly and even a tad bit proudly)..that would be me. As in, "Me! Me! Over here!"
I bought this movie for my little guy a couple of weeks ago. Never in a million years would I have thought that God would use it to speak to me. As in speak to me again. About something He'd already spoken to me about. Sort of in a gentle confirming way.
For those of you who may not be Jonah-savvy, I'll give you the short version of the story. Jonah was a prophet of the Lord. He heard from God regularly, and delighted in being able to share with people a "message from the Lord". He was faithful. He followed through. He was a great leader. He was a man of God. People trusted him. When he spoke, people listened.
Before turning in one evening, Jonah was having his quiet time with God. God told him that he was to go to the city of Nineveh and inform the people of God's great anger and sadness. The city of Nineveh was a city of great sin. It was a wicked city, worthy of destruction.
However, God wanted Jonah to go to the city and prophecy to them of His unfailing love and mercy, ultimately leading them to repentance and forgiveness.
Jonah understood exactly what it was that God wanted him to do. But, rather than follow God's commands, he ran. Picture him with fingers plugged into his ears, yelling,"I can't hear you! I can't hear you!" (I believe I've attempted this more than once in my lifetime. I actually believed I could run from God. Even more amazing is that I thought it was possible for Him to lose sight of me and forget what He'd asked of me in the first place.)
He jumped on a boat headed to Tarshish, which was in the complete opposite direction. It wasn't long before the ship encountered a storm so violent, it threatened to overturn the entire ship and passengers. In order to spare themselves from God's wrath, they threw Jonah overboard.
A large fish swallowed Jonah. For three days and nights, he stayed in the belly of this fish...He prayed to God for forgiveness. He rejoiced that he was still alive. He promised God that he would complete the assignment that God had for him. God cause the whale to vomit Jonah up onto dry land.
Jonah went into the city of Nineveh, all the while telling everyone who would hear him about why he was there. He declared that in forty days the city would be overthrown. The king caught wind of this and ordered that the city fast, pray and repent. God saw this and saved them and forgave them of their ignorance.
Jonah was none too pleased with the way God poured out His mercy and forgiveness. He felt they didn't deserve it.
Has God ever given you a "Nineveh"? He gave me one...maybe more than one. But He definitely spoke to me about one. I had someone in my life from my past who had hurt me immensely. Someone who had broken laws. Broken hearts. Broken trust. Broken vows. God spoke to my heart and said,"Let this person know that you have forgiven them. Tell him how I have changed your heart. Tell him about Me. Tell him about mercy and grace and true freedom that can only be found in Me."
Did I do it? Actually? No. I second-guessed myself. AND God. I thought,"He can't actually be asking me to do this. It seems so straightforward, but it could really turn my life upside down. Am I sure this is even from the Lord? What if it's the enemy, just trying to get me into a tail-spin?" I thought that if I had already forgiven him in my heart, there wasn't any need to open up a new can of worms and bring turmoil into my life. I also didn't know how to go about asking HIM for forgiveness as well. Weren't his sins greater than mine? If I did that, he could take the easy way out again, and go back to blaming me for all of his mistakes and poor judgement. The fact of the matter is this. God sees sin as sin. None greater or lesser. I wasn't perfect in this relationship. I am no greater in God's eyes than this person. What God was asking me was to simply extend the grace and mercy that had already been extended to me.
When God gives direction, he always provides a way. I know this now. Didn't know this then. I would have known it much sooner though, I believe, if I would have done what He asked me to do. He wouldn't have had to show me in so many other ways, because this would have been HUGE. It would have impacted me and my life in a way that I would have gotten it. I would have understood fully. I would be finer-tuned at hearing His voice. I would be more ready to jump up and do whatever He asks of me, because I would have had this experience as a reminder that He's always just. Always true to His word. Always keeps His promises. Always provides. And, the blessing that could have been poured out on that other person? Well, God could have moved mountains...and then some.
How about you? Has God given you a Nineveh to have mercy on? Has he asked you to forgive the seemingly unforgivable? Has He asked you to go back into your past and not only let someone off the hook, but pray for their salvation and their prosperity? Even that He would move in their lives and use them mightily for the kingdom?
If He has, or if He does, the best thing I can tell you is to just do it. He is always sovereign. He is always, always faithful. Everything He does, He does in the name of love.