Chuck Foreman – Teaching Pastor
This morning I’m still feeling the impact of revisiting what has become not much more than a children’s Bible story to most of us, the story of Jonah. Although Jonah understood that God is “a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity,” (Jonah 4:2) Jonah never seemed to want to have those qualities in himself. In fact, he refused to act that way toward his own enemies and threw a fit when God didn’t punish the Ninevites as Jonah hoped he would.
I just received an email from a good friend who has just returned, on purpose, to one of the most dangerous, war torn, conflict ridden places on earth to show the love of Jesus to people on both sides of the conflict—Palestine.
Jerry Steele, with MAD House Ministries (MAD = Make A Difference), leads a ministry that uses sports as a vehicle to build relationships with people in order to share with them the unconditional love of God through Jesus. Jerry left last Saturday to go back into the heart of the current conflict between Israel and Palestine. What strikes me about Jerry is how Un-Jonah he is. Read what he shared below:
“I have now been back here long enough to re-enter the ‘fray’. There is evidence of the work of the enemy in all of our efforts. Discouragement in the eyes and demeanor of a few young Christians who were making good progress when we left. Financial and logistical/cultural hurdles in our continued efforts to complete the process of establishing our home training facility. Discouragement and defeat in hearts of the young men who were so eager to participate in the National basketball program when we left. There was such eager anticipation and desire to learn and grow when we left. Now there is resignation to the idea that their society and culture will never change and their opportunities in life will always be thwarted by the people in power over them.”
“With that as my circumstantial setting I rehearsed Psalm 23 and prayed it aloud to the Lord. I opened the bible to it so nothing would be lost to my memory.
As I read the Words as my prayer, new insight into their meaning flooded my mind. The Spirit of God was at work guiding me into the truth that is in those words. My eyes flooded with tears of gratefulness and thanksgiving. The Lord drew close to me as I drew close to him through his Word. I am here for his namesake. He prepares nourishment and comfort for me in the midst of the work of my enemy. There is no fear because of my Shepherd. It was a very special time and I just wanted to share it because I so much want each of you to experience for yourselves the incredible presence of the God of the universe who chose to live among us and now in us by his Spirit. Certainly this is confirmation to me that God hears and answers all of your prayers for me.”
May we all learn to be more Un-Jonah and more Jesus-Like.