Redeem regrets: Sing a new song - 5 August 2020
By Louise Gevers
I went down to the very roots of the mountains, into the land whose gates lock shut for ever. But you, O LORD my God, brought me back from the depths alive. When I felt my life slipping away, then, O LORD, I prayed to you, and in your holy Temple you heard me. Those who worship worthless idols have abandoned their loyalty to you.
The autocorrect on a cellphone can make sending a simple text message very frustrating at times. The autocorrect is supposed to be, “a software feature that corrects misspellings as you type”, which sounds very helpful; but the problem arises when it goes ahead of my typing and “chooses” which word I should use, sometimes with ridiculous results – which may be amusing – but usually wastes a lot of time.
I wonder if God sometimes feels like this about us; He tells us to do something, but we’re always one step ahead, convinced we know His mind better, but getting it wrong; or, stubbornly, we don’t want to listen either way, making it necessary for Him to correct us. This is precisely what had happened to Jonah, and why the prayer in the Verse today was prayed from the belly of a big fish.
Like many of us, Jonah shows himself to be wilful, and mixed up in his thinking; he allows self-importance to take precedence over obedience to God. At the heart of the matter, God wants to show compassion to Nineveh, a great pagan city that had, “more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who (could not) tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well” (Jonah 4:11), by warning them, through Jonah, and giving them an opportunity to repent and escape destruction.
Jonah, in auto correct mode, “knew better” than God and ran away from Him, but in so doing, unwittingly set himself up to be corrected. God doesn’t change His mind about saving the lost because His servant is wilful. When the storm at sea arose (Jonah 1:4), Jonah knew that his disobedience was the cause (Jonah 1:12) but his change of heart only came about when he was facing death in the fish’s belly, and his, “life was ebbing away”.
Sometimes it takes a crisis to make us come to our senses. We recognise that our wrong attitude has alienated us from God and we need to change. God cares about saving the lost people in the world, and we need to understand that, to reach out as He instructs us to, we need to be free of our auto-correct. “I will give you a new heart and a new mind. I will take away your stubborn heart of stone and give you an obedient heart.” (Ezekiel 36:26)
Like Jonah, we can call to God from the depths and know that, “It is not my ability, but my response to God’s ability that counts” and there will be no regrets. (Corrie Ten Boom)
Prayer: Father, Thank You that you know how weak we are, yet you continue to love us and deepen our relationship with You. Please change my heart to allow me to serve You with new understanding. Amen