Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Heart Like Jonah's

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - The Prophet Jonah before the Walls of Nineveh, c. 1655 - Google Art Project
I never really understood Jonah.  Why would he want all the people of Nineveh to be destroyed? I have an academic knowledge of what the Assyrians were like, with their ruthless conquering, but I didn't feel like that was reason enough to want the wrath of God vented on the whole city.  I sneered when Jonah whined at the people's salvation, and I cheered when they repented.  Even now, when I look at the sin around me, I pray for the redemption of the sinner rather than their punishment.  I rejoice to know that Jeffrey Dahmer was baptized before he died.  I wish Adam Lanza had not died because he lost his chance.  

I never understood Jonah's heart until today.  I don't know what possessed me to read some of grand jury testimony in the Kermit Gosnell case.  I wish I hadn't.  I don't recommend that you do.  Suffice it to say that what he did to those late term babies and their mothers in his abortion clinic eclipses any horror I ever imagined.  One article even had pictures.  I will never be the same.

I found myself echoing the saints in Revelation.  "How long will you refrain from avenging?"  I said, even as tears fell down my face (Revelation 6:10).  How can we live in a world where these kinds of atrocities happen?  Academically, I know all the answers.  God is self-limiting.  We live in world torn apart by sin.  The very creation groans in longing for Christ's return (Romans 8:22).  He will return, and He will avenge.  But when I read stories like this, I have to work hard to keep from despair.  How long can I stand to live in this sin sick world?  

I also have to confess.   I understand Jonah now.  If God told me today to go and share the gospel with Gosnell, I'd run.  I'd say the words I sneered at Jonah for saying, " I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity" (Jonah 4:2).  If I shared Jesus's love with this man, he might repent.  He might have those horrible sins washed away.  My own black and sinful heart doesn't want that; it says hell is too good for such a man.  

And that is why I need Jesus.  On my own, I'm sinful, selfish, and vengeful.  I'm praying now for a heart that wants ALL men to come to salvation.  Jesus died because he had that kind of heart. I thought I had it.  I was wrong.   
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
I wrote this post last week, and Helene and I agree to put it up today before we knew what would unfold in Boston yesterday.  I considered putting this on hold, but I realized that it is still timely.  The person or people who made and planted those bombs also need salvation.  Do we want them to find it? ~Melissa

No comments:

Post a Comment