But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?” Jonah 4:1-4 ESV
What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. Matthew 18:12-14 ESV
Michael was sitting on his mother’s lap, rocking back and forth. He brought all of the things he loved with him onto his mother’s lap–Dolly, a carved boat, a reindeer blanket, and a puppy–and there was room on his mother’s lap for all these things. But when his baby sister woke up from her nap and wanted to be on Mother’s lap too, Michael got angry. “There isn’t room!” he said. He didn’t want to share his mother’s lap with his sister. But his mother said there was room on her lap for his sister too, and there was. His mother had enough love that Michael didn’t have to worry about sharing it.
Jonah was a lot like Michael. When he saw that God didn’t destroy Nineveh, he was angry. God had had mercy and compassion on him, and forgiven him for running away, and Jonah knew how wonderful God’s love was. But he didn’t want to share it with the people of Nineveh. He wanted to keep God’s love for himself and for the people he loved. That’s why he had run away from God in the first place. He was afraid God would have mercy on the people of Nineveh and forgive them, and Jonah didn’t want that to happen.
Sometimes we are like Jonah. We don’t want to share God’s love with others, because we think they are bad people who don’t deserve God’s forgiveness. We don’t want to share God with people who aren’t like us. But we forget that we also don’t deserve God’s love and forgiveness. God’s love for us is a free gift that we could never earn. He sent Jesus to earn the forgiveness of sins for us by dying on the cross and paying the penalty for them. Jesus wants everyone to know and receive his love, and there is room for everyone in his kingdom.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your wonderful love and forgiveness. Help us to be willing to share it with all people. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scott, Ann On Mother’s Lap New York: Clarion Books, 1972.