There is something so elegant and beautiful about a dove with it's white feathered wings spread out to catch the wind. Its image bears something to the likeness of the Holy Spirit coming down in bodily form upon Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan (Luke 3:21-22). Or maybe it gives an image of Noah as he extended his hand to release the dove out the window of the ark as he and his family waited for some sign that the floods have receded (Genesis 8:6-12). A dove also reminds us of peace. There was a time in ministry when I received a harsh insult from an unbeliever. I was so hurt and discouraged. But after praying and sharing my feelings with the Lord, I looked out the back window of our house and a white dove flew down and landed in our backyard. It reminded me of our peace and comfort through the Holy Spirit.
God reveals Himself with such images as the dove. But would you think of the prophet Jonah in the same way? What comes to mind when you think of him? A big fish? Disobedience? Unwillingness? A man who is doing all he can to run away from God? However the thing about Jonah's name is that it means "Dove." Jonah is indeed God's chosen messenger to offer peace and forgiveness to the people of Nineveh. Yet Jonah was bent on running away from the presence of God and chose to disobey God's call to be His messenger. Jonah was facing a struggle between what he desired in his flesh and what God desired. And from Jonah's perspective he may have had good reason to resist this call to the Ninevites. After all, that particular region was known for being powerful in conquest and in riches. The Israelite's had experienced great loss and pain at their hands. Yet, Jonah also knew the character of God and he stated,
"I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity."
This statement says so much about the character and heart of God. Jonah knew of God's grace and compassion. Jonah desired justice towards this nation who was so hard and oppressive. He longed and waited for judgment to come down upon his enemy. Yet, he also knew God's desire was for him to be sent as a dove to his enemy, with the invitation to repent (change directions) and receive God's mercy, forgiveness and peace. This call from God was central to Jonah's identity, it was his name.
We live in an age where there is much division between nations, ethnic groups and even Christians. Could God possibly be sending you or me to "be the dove" to offer peace and forgiveness? Is it possible that God wants us to go to an enemy or a person with a different view and reconcile? Hopefully we know that God will relent of judgment, if we are willing to go for him. He is gracious and compassionate. Even though it seems like great judgment may be falling on America and parts of the world, He will relent. But we have to choose to respond with humility and repentance. We have to take the uncomfortable steps to offer God's mercy to others.
Many of my blogs, I'm speaking from my personal devotions. I admit I have been weak and fearful. Yet the Lord gently prods and calls us to listen to his voice and go....
Be the dove.
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