“I will make up to you for the years that swarming locust has eaten….” (Joel 2:25).

 

     One of the most encouraging things about new years, new weeks and new days is the word new. Friend Webster reveals its meaning: ‘refreshed, different from one of the same that has existed previously.’ Best of all, it is a place to start over. Refresh yourself. Change directions. Begin anew. But that requires knowing where you are. It requires taking time to honestly admit your present condition. To start over you have to know where you are. To get somewhere else, it is necessary to know where you are presently standing. That is true in a department store or a big Church, on a free way or a College campus…or in life, for that matter. Very, very seldom does anybody, ‘Just happen’ to end up on the right road. The process involved in redirecting our lives is often painful, slow and even confusing. Occasionally it seems unbearable!

     If you take Jonah, he was prejudiced, bigoted, stubborn, openly rebellious and spiritually insensitive. Other prophets ran to the Lord. He ran from Him. Others declared the promises of God with fervent zeal. Not Jonah!  Somewhere down the line the prophet got his inner directions cross wired. He wound up, of all places, on a ship in the Mediterranean Sea bound for a place named Tarshish. That was due west. God had told him about Nineveh. That was due East. But Jonah never got to Tarshish. Through a traumatic chain of events, Jonah began to get his head together in the digestive tract of a gigantic fish.

     What a place to start over! Slopping around in the seaweed and juices inside that monster, fishing for a match to find his way out. Jonah took a long honest look at his short, dishonest life. For the first time in a long time, the prophet brushed up on his prayer life. He yelled for mercy. He recited psalms. He promised the Lord that he would keep his vow and get back on target. Only one creature on earth felt sicker than Jonah-the fish, in whose belly Jonah bellowed. Up came the prophet, who hit the road running toward Nineveh.

     Perhaps you can identify rather easily with Jonah. This has not been your all-time -spiritual high-plateau year, right? You have been dodged and ducked, squirmed and squeaked your way through one Tarshish trip after another. But no more. You are tired, rather exhausted and swallowed alive by your circumstances. You feel oppressed, guilty, overused and under- developed. You have run a long way. A subtle whisper in your ear says, “You’re through, finished, burned out, used up; you have been replaced ….. Forgotten.”  Are you facing the  deception by the enemy of your soul?

     Look at what Prophet Joel writes to all Jonahs who may be like you. God is speaking, “I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten…” (Joel 2:25) If God can take a disobedient prophet, turn him around and set him on fire spiritually, He can do the same with you. He is a Specialist at making something useful and beautiful out of something broken and confused. Where are you?  Start there. Openly and freely declare your need to the One who cares deeply. Don’t hide a thing. Show God all those bites. He is ready to heal everyone…if you are ready to run toward that Nineveh called tomorrow.