I think about myself a lot.
“What should I do?”
“What should I wear?”
“Why would she say this to me?”
“Don’t they know that I…”
Me, me, me, me, me.*
I know that my selfish thinking is ugly and sinful, yet I default to it on a more-often-than-regular basis. Thankfully, the Lord is “a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Jonah 4:2); and this past Sunday, he gave me an opportunity to take my selfish desire and put it to death.
To make a long story short(er), here’s an analogy:
NINEVITES : JONAH :: DAD : ME
The city of Nineveh was a wicked city of outright rebellion against God. The Ninevites did some crazy things against the nation of Israel, where Jonah was a native and prophet from.
My dad was absent from my life for most of my childhood, lives in China, and doesn’t know Jesus. Our relationship turned around when I began following Jesus, but to say it’s a slow work in progress is an understatement.
The Ninevites repent, and Jonah shakes his fist at God because he can’t see past the sin committed against his nation.
My dad tells me he’s in town for the weekend, wants to have lunch with me and come to Garden City Church’s anniversary service, and I shake my fist at God because all I can see is the hurt built up from the years he had no desire for a relationship with me.
Yet the Lord is “a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Jonah 4:2).
God broke me down 4 times that day.
It felt like the Holy Spirit was fanning the flames in my heart to put to death the “church of me”… like the Lord was wringing out tons of darkness and hurt and pain in my heart in the form of uncontrollable and unstoppable tears, all so that he could make room in my heart for greater joy, greater peace, greater love to extend to my pagan dad.
After 8 hours, 4 breakdowns, and lots of prayer with/from friends, I got to welcome my dad (and watch my church family welcome my dad) into Garden City Church with arms of grace.
Thank you, Jesus, and Garden City Church, for helping me put to death the “church of me” that I so easily default to.
*Justin Buzzard wrote a poem about this that he shared in his sermon a few weeks ago at Garden City Church.