Runners and Rebels Redeemed

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I stood in line at the grocery store and surveyed the man ahead of me. He was unmistakably a member of the US Armed Forces. Everything from the hat covering his crew cut to the boots he was walking in, exhibited his identity. As the cashier turned to him and kindly thanked him for his service, my mind rehearsed a quote I had heard recently: “A veteran is someone who wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America for an amount up to and including their life.” And I pondered whether I had ever handed my Lord a blank check?
Picture yourself slipping a signed check to God. Would we say, “Any amount up to and including my life is yours”? Or is there anything He might ask that would cost too much? Would we need to add, “P.S. just not ___________”?
Jonah was a prophet of the Lord. According to II Kings 14:25, he prophesied regarding the kingdom’s expansion under the reign of King Jereboam II. This would have pleased both the king and the people. It seems that he had a desire to serve God and His people. But when he heard his calling from God, he decidedly said, “But not Ninevah.”
Not Ninevah. Why? Why did this request send Jonah on an attempt to run from the presence of the Lord? Was it because Jonah wasn’t ready for change? Perhaps he wasn’t ready for God to interrupt his life and send him on a different trajectory? Was it because it cost too much? These things likely factored in. God had touched an area in his life that was off-limits—what was it? Jonah answers that question in Jonah 4:2, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. 
In other words, he said, “God, I know You good enough to know that You will probably show these people mercy. They are the sworn enemies of my people Israel! They plunder our cities; they oppress us; they have killed my relatives; and they deserve to die. I cannot, I will not be a means of extending Your mercy to those who have treated me like this. They don’t deserve it.”
And I ponder whether any of us are running. Running from being a messenger of God’s divine call of mercy and grace. Standing in the way of having the rebels and the accusers find God’s forgiveness. Do the ones who have hurt us still deserve to hear a message of love and forgiveness? Who is undeserving of your kindness? Will you share it with them? Or will you run?
The beautiful truth that shines through in Jonah’s story is God’s grace. He offers forgiveness and hope to both the runners and the rebels who repent. He gave Jonah another chance. He gave rebellious Ninevah an offer of restoration. I … will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy (Ex 33:19).
If we think we deserve more in the Kingdom because we worked longer or harder or lived a better life than someone else, then we have forgotten how we entered the Kingdom. We weren’t saved because of our merit or worthiness, but because of His mercy and grace, His generosity and goodness. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Tit 3:5-7).
And those who truly understand grace cannot hoard it for themselves.