“You go get me some more cherries right now!” my mother shrieked on that humid summer day in our small Mississippi town.
She was steaming hot when she realized I’d eaten the entire jar of maraschinos she needed for the ambrosia. With an angry command, I was sent to get another jar. So I pedaled my banana-seat bike five blocks to a convenience store and pulled out a pocketful of change for the cherries.
The next summer Momma wanted to send me to summer camp. “Noooo, I don’t want to go!” I pleaded. Several years later, her idea was to enroll me at an all-girls college in South Carolina. “Please don’t send me there!” I begged. My wheels just wouldn’t roll that far from home.
The prophet Jonah didn’t want to go where he was sent either. God wanted him to run an errand of mercy that would bring salvation to an entire city.
“Up on your feet and on your way to the big city of Nineveh! Preach to them. They’re in a bad way and I can’t ignore it any longer.”
Jonah 1:2 (Message)
Instead, Jonah set sail in the opposite direction and was thrown overboard and swallowed by a whale. For 72 hours he cried out to God while confined in the dark, hot, stinking belly of the whale. Then the great fish hurled a hunk of seaweed-tangled Jonah onto the beach. He went on to preach a very successful revival campaign in Nineveh that he neither enjoyed nor appreciated.
Contrast with Isaiah, during his multisensory encounter with God-of-the Angel-Armies:
“And then I heard the voice of the Master: “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”I spoke up, “I’ll go. Send me!”
Isaiah 6:8 (Message)
God’s heart brims with fiery love for all of creation to be restored and have abundant, eternal life. He will send whomever and do whatever to form a community of intimate, trusting partners in this mission.
The ultimate gift ever sent to the world is God’s One and Only Son, Jesus Christ! Fully human, fully God. Mortal, visible, approachable, altogether lovely!
The Gospel Jesus preached opened the Kingdom of Heaven to everyone. He reached out to the ones on the margins who’d been excluded because of their ethnicity, gender, status, sickness, or poverty. Those who had failed to measure up to the religious standards of the day were offered a message that turned the old order upside down. This is Good News!
Sometimes I get swallowed in the dark, hot belly of shame. The pain of feeling not strong enough, skilled enough, or productive enough to hit the mark in today’s religious system marginalizes my hope to make a difference. Those puzzling moments are invitations that pull me to cry out to God. Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to pour so much love into me that I can’t round up enough containers to hold it all! It’s not with hostile demands, but gentle revelations the Holy Spirit renews my mind.
The truth is Christ was crucified and resurrected to save my soul and transform me from the inside out! I’m set free from worldly pressures to perform, compete, measure up, or impress others. Everything I think I have going for me is insignificant compared to embracing Christ and being embraced by Him.
The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: “Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.”
John 20:20-21 (Message)
You and I are sent. Going about our everyday lives, we can share the Good News in simple ways. It’s easy as paying attention to the people whose paths intersect ours in the grocery store, workplace, or neighborhood. We can ask the Holy Spirit to sensitize us to the hurt or stress others are suffering. Then bless them with a smile, kind word, or helping hand. Pray for them. Our small acts are the cups of cold water that bring Christ’s refreshment to those in need. Every tiny seed we plant is our small role in Jesus’ powerful strategy to draw others deeply into the communion of saints.
You ARE what God says that you are! You are enough!
Make Breath on Paper a part of your daily devotion as we begin this new series on what God says about us. I AM – what God says that I am. (unsubscribe at anytime)
We would love it if you share this post on FB, Pinterest, Twitter, and help us get the word out.
Mildred Gerner was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta and now resides in Omaha, Nebraska. She married Pastor Leroy Gerner in 1986, and they have three adult sons and daughter-in-loves in Omaha. Together they have served in four churches in four states.
Mildred is passionate about soul care and spiritual formation for Christ’s disciples. She enjoys playing with her two grandchildren, football, traveling, boiled shrimp, sunny beaches, and books – usually reading three at a time, beginning in random chapters.