Jonah 3:1-10; Luke 11:29-32
"When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do them; he did not carry it out." -- Jonah 3 10.
What an extraordinary sentence! It did not hit me until I had read the passage from Jonah six or seven times. Then it stopped me cold.
God . . . repented!
I have never, ever thought of God repentant. I always associated repentance with one in need of God's forgiveness and grace. The notion of God considering his love for the Ninevites, their response to Jonah and deciding that no, after all, he would not punish them somehow brings me closer to the Lord.
Jonah's story speaks to me of God's deep love for all of us. Nothing but deep love is so swift to recognize sincere repentance, so quick to turn anger aside and embrace reconciliation. How apt for the season of Lent.
In the passage from Luke, Jesus castigates an "evil generation" because it demands a sign, a show, a proof. He compares the generation unfavorably with the Ninevites, who heard the word of God through Jonah and accepted it instantly.
How many times have I demanded some sign, some proof, not only from God, but from friends, family members, people I love? Why does God, or anyone else, have to prove anything to me?
Yet, like Jonah, sometimes I am unwilling to give God a break. Sometimes I am unwilling to give anyone a break, including myself.
How incredibly silly.
Maybe I could avoid this kind of harshness, for Lent at least.
By Stephen Kline