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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Holding onto Pain

"Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation."

Jonah's challenge is both similar and very different from the apostle's. Jonah must walk through Niniveh and remind its citizens that unless they reform, their entire city will be destroyed. In this aspect of his ministry Jonah is a forerunner of the apostles, but Jonah is reluctant to assume his new role. In fact, he hopes he fails. His dislike of the Ninivehites is deep. He does not want them to reform and hopes that God will destroy them.

The apostles, on the other hand, while no doubt having their own prejudices, are not reluctant at all to follow Jesus, even though they do not know the fullness of their mission. Jesus' personality and power draw them like fresh water in the desert. They do not hesitate leaving their boats and their families to follow the one who promises a new reign and a new world order.

There is a bit of Jonah and the apostles in all of us. Because no one can escape hurt, especially broken relationships and friendships, like Jonah, we sometimes harbor and hold onto painful memories that cling to us like an ink stain on a new shirt. We scrub and launder the shirt over and over, but the stain remains. Though we know we have no choice but to find a new shirt, we cling to what seemed so clean and fresh but is now ruined. Unless we change shirts, we will be unable to begin again.

Today’s scriptures, while encouraging us to heal and begin again, give us a choice. Live in bitterness like Jonah or cast our nets into the sea of God’s love where Jesus promises us we will catch men and women who are anxious for the peace and security only God can provide. When we submit to God’s path, God will show us the way to fullness of life.

Today, listen for God calling your name.

How do you encounter pain?

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