This week's memory verse:
"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me." -- Psalm 138:7
If you are driving along a road and come to a detour, it takes you off your planned route, but eventually will lead you back to where you want to be. It's just an alternate route. If you have God in your heart, you will most likely still take a detour every now and then that throws you off course, but if you are willing, God will lead you back on the right course.
Take Jonah for example. (Read the book of Jonah for yourself) He was asked by God to take his message into the sinful town of Nineveh. Jonah did not want to go...he did not want to obey God's command. So, he ran away. God never left him...he was still with Jonah, but Jonah tried to run away from God.
We all know what happened in this famous story...he was thrown off the boat he was on in a terrible storm. He sank to the bottom of the ocean. He could have just given up...he could have accepted his fate and drowned. But he cried out to God. Even though he felt banished by God, he still looked to him and pledged his love and praised the God he loved.
God sent the fish to save him. It may not have felt like he was being saved...being swallowed by a huge fish...but that fish gave him shelter from the bottom of the sea. While in this strange shelter, he cried out to God, reliving his harrowing ordeal and again praised God for saving him. God heard his praises and his prayers and saved him again as the fish spit him out on dry land.
WHEW! But, God wasn't done with Jonah. He again gave him the command to go to Nineveh to preach God's message to them. This time Jonah obeyed.
It is this point in the story where we find out WHY Jonah chose to disobey God in the first place. Nineveh was a very sinful place...the people were all corrupt and didn't have God in their hearts at all....or so it seemed. When Jonah finally got there and began preaching for them to repent...they did! They turned from their sins and God did not destroy them. This is the part that upset Jonah. He KNEW God was merciful and would save this sinful city. This made him angry because he didn't feel they deserved to be saved. He himself was saved from his own disobedience, but didn't feel these people deserved the same grace.
Don't we do that all the time? We judge others when we have done the exact same thing ourselves! How quickly we forget what God has done for us!
This is one detour that can take us very far off our charted course if we are not careful. Being judgmental is very easy for us...we get more concerned about our own comfort than the needs of others around us. It is only through embracing God's word...God's truths...God's messages to us that He can and will heal and use us.
I know that I take that detour more often than I would like to admit. But, because I am open to the lessons that God tries to teach me every day, that detour is not very long. I ask God to forgive me and help me to forgive others. I get back on track and back to the business of building God's kingdom here on earth.
Don't let the detour of forgetfulness and judgment keep you off your charted course. Learn from Jonah...learn from your own mistakes. Sometimes the valuable lessons you learn while on that alternate route make taking the detour well worth the trip.