Links Daily Devotional

The Reach of God

But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. (Jonah 1:3, NIV)

How far must you go to outreach the reach of God?

I don’t mean this as a trick question. In fact, you’ve probably answered it before, at least in your mind: You can’t outreach the reach of God. “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there” (Psalm 139:8).

But in truth, we have all tried to outreach God’s reach, running like Jonah.

For centuries, even into our own time, the story of Jonah told in the small Old Testament book bearing his name has been the text of choice on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. In Leviticus, God ordained this to be the annual day of sacrifice for the sins of the people in the preceding year. And in the account of Jonah, the Jewish people have seen God’s mercy and offer of redemption, both to the pagan Ninevites and the prophet Jonah himself—a mercy they can call upon for themselves.

Of course, the wonder of the Gospel is that as those who believe in Jesus as Messiah, we can all throw ourselves on this mercy, whether Jewish or not. The rub is that we don’t. You may even recognize that many people set out to escape the reach of God when they not want to obey him, yet at the same time they desire that reach still to extend to them when they arrive at the place of desperation and must have his mercy. It’s like an alcoholic wanting nothing to do with a doctor’s instructions to quit drinking, but who still expects the paramedics to show up at his door when toxic shock attacks his vital organs.

The good news is that God’s reach will extend even this far. We may show up at the field in the eleventh hour and still be offered a job in the kingdom of God; we may repent in our dying hour like the thief on the cross and count on the Savior’s blood. But in the meantime we miss the tender, loving work of God in our daily lives.

Only a few days ago, as I was loading my clubs in the car after a round of golf in some of our most pleasant summer weather with great company, I heard the voice of another man cursing and threatening. He was on the phone, loudly promising to “come right now” and mess up an apparent adversary.

Just a hole or two apart on the golf course, I realized in a moment how far apart this man and I were off the course—not as sinners, but in the way we choose to live under the mercy of God at this point in our lives.

Allowing God to reach us today makes all the difference in the life we live now, for in his mercy we find forgiveness, grace, and freedom—and anything we can do to convince ourselves and others that we do not have to wait until the next life to gain these rich blessings is worth every effort we give it.

Jeff Hopper

August 15, 2013

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