August 30

“Who knows?  God may relent and change his mind.  He may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.”  Jonah 3:9

“The Lord … is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3:9

Recently I was in a conversation about Jonah.  As which character do I see myself? Do I … Run from responsibility?  See some people as unworthy, hopeless, irredeemable?  Feel angry when such people succeed in any way, get off the hook, are shown mercy?  I don’t recall anyone identifying with the Ninevites.

Hiding from chaos and ruthless hatred, Anne Frank wrote in her diary:  “I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”  Anne sets a high bar.  Genocidal maniacs … avowed supremacists?  I like to think I am not judgmental, that I believe in second chances.   But maybe I am, and maybe I don’t … like Jonah.

In spite of my bad behavior growing up I cannot remember feeling shunned at the supper table in my family kitchen … always another chance.  In spite of my continuing behavior problems, I am never unwelcome at God’s Holy Communion Table … always another chance.  Would/should my parents, and God, write in their diaries … that I am “good at heart?”  Though undeserved, I believe they would. 

My daily prayers are typically for healing, help with coping and comfort, and thanksgiving.  Honestly, I don’t often ask for forgiveness other than Sunday morning group confession.  Nor do I often pray for the grace to show understanding and mercy toward others.  When we pray The Lord’s Prayer we ask God to forgive us as we forgive others.  Far greater than second chances, we are to grant “490 chances”, as Jesus commanded Peter.  Today is a good time to ask for such grace.

Forgiving God, You never give up on me.  Grant me a measure of such grace and the gifts of your Spirit to show patience, tolerance, mercy, kindness and hospitality toward others.  Amen

Verla Olson