The Bus Incident

One day I was standing with 100 other people at a crosswalk in New York City waiting for a light to change.  When it did, I stepped out.  Luckily, my traveling partner noticed an errant bus driver to our left who was going to “beat” the light and make a quick right–right in front of me.  The bus sailed by, about 4 inches from my nose.

If it hadn’t been for my companion’s arm jutting out to stop of my forward-lurching shoulders, I might not be here today.  Whew!  I felt an overwhelming relief like I have never experienced, before or since.

I tell this story because the word repentance has gotten some undeserved connotations heaped on it that aren’t really there–as an onerous, even excruciating process, which *must* include feelings of deep regret and shame.  Further, some believe there must be proof of one’s repentance with certain acts or attitudes before the grace of forgiveness is offered.

But that is simply not the case for the repentance that takes place in Jonah’s story for this Sunday, January 22nd.  Jonah gives a quick, simple message of impending doom to the people of a large city, and they turn around. That’s it.  Period.  And God’s mercy is as immediate as their turning around.  We don’t know what the people of Nineveh felt after this moment.  But I can imagine there was some overwhelming relief like they have never experienced, before or since.

What matters are over and done with between you and God?  Is there any real reason to keep holding on to those things?  What is keeping you from experiencing the deep relief of a life turned in the proper direction?

In other words: what is your bus incident?

Holy God, your prophets, and your Son, invite us to turn in your direction.  What a relief!  Amen.

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