Jonah 2:7-10 – "When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord." And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. (NIV)
Numbers 30:2 – When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said. (NIV)
Today I received a gentle and friendly reminder of just how gracious and patient our dear heavenly Father is.
Some two years ago, I made a vow to the Lord that I would consistently write devotional messages, as He provided the inspiration, and send them out to friends, co-workers, and family on my e-mail list. Eventually I began submitting these devotionals to PCCWeb Daily, and the words God gave me were circulated around the globe to thousands of people. I began getting responses from all over the world, and God truly blessed me.
But several months ago, for no particular reason, I stopped writing the devotionals. I failed to keep my vow to the Lord. Just as Jonah had promised to give God's message to the Ninevites, and then fled in the opposite direction, so, too, I fled from my vow, and turned away.
Just like Jonah, I knew, the whole time, that I needed to turn around and fulfill my vow to God, but still I did not. For Jonah, it took being swallowed by a fish to bring him back. For me, it was a simple e-mail from someone who had read many of my previous devotionals. "I miss your devotionals. When are you going to write some more?" was all they wrote.
I immediately became intensely aware of God's wondrous grace in my life. Grace, unmerited favour, had surely been shown to me. For the previous several months, God had answered numerous prayers, and had blessed my family and me in uncounted ways. He had been the same as always, despite my turning from Him. Only God could love sinners such as me. Only God would willingly bless someone who had failed to keep a vow that was made. Today, I have, like Jonah, renewed my vow to God. I am so thankful that He has been so patient with me, and was kind enough to send such a gentle, loving reminder, rather than having me "swallowed" by a bigger fish.
I hope that, today, we will all take a few moments to be aware of and appreciate how truly gracious and patient our Father is.
Prayer: O heavenly Father, we thank You, with all that we are, for Your grace and Your undeniable patience. Thank You for loving sinners like us, and thank You for not giving us what we deserve. This song of thanksgiving we sacrifice to You. Amen.