September 17, 2016

Jonah 1:14 Then they cried to the Lord, “O Lord, please do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O Lord, have done as you pleased.”

Here we have a prayer to the real God by people who knew nothing of Him. Monotheism had never really crossed their minds. Even when God responded miraculously, I don’t think that transformed them into believers. All they knew of Yahweh was that Jonah had described Him a “the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land,” (verse 9) and that Jonah said he was running from Him. Actually, this whole story shows that even Jonah’s conception of God was far too small. We laugh that Jonah thought he could run from God, but countless people try to do that even today. Some Catholics act as though their favorite saints are little gods, with this one in charge of this and that one in charge of that, just the way the sailors in Jonah’s boat thought about their gods. That’s just the devil taking advantage of human weakness! The problem is, we can’t wrap our minds around the reality that God is not only infinite, He is fully concerned with each detail of our lives. We think of it like an army, where the general isn’t going to be on guard duty. God’s not like that. He is so big, He is so powerful, that He can be concerned about every detail of every one of His children. That violates human logic, but the Bible and experience both proclaim it is true. We can’t run from Him, but if we know Him rightly, we certainly won’t want to!

I live in a nation where the vast majority of people don’t know any more about their Creator than those sailors did. On top of that, their world view is a mishmash of materialistic secularism and superstition. They ignore religion for most of their lives, but are afraid to violate religious traditions, especially regarding the dead. They have no idea what Buddhist sutras mean, but they pay big money to have those sutras chanted when a member of their family dies. A challenging environment for ministry indeed! I am to speak the truth in love, not offending needlessly but never drawing back, demonstrating that the God I serve is not a matter of traditions but of reality. People have indeed taken notice, but most of them are still like those sailors, in awe but not seeing any personal connection to themselves. I need the anointing of the Holy Spirit to get through to them that God loves them as much as He does me, and they can see that He loves me a lot. I am not to gloss over sin and the need for repentance, but I must make it clear that God’s forgiveness is real and His salvation is eternal.

Father, I’m daunted every time I put my task into writing. Help me look to You more than I look at my situation, my strength, or my ability. As I tell others all the time, help me remember that You are far greater than any problem that presents itself, on any level, so that I may be fully available to You in addressing that problem, not just for my blessing but for the blessing of many, and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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