A Jonah, And A Stumbling Block
Foreword: So, this will be the first time a narrative occured in A Scribble and A Dream series. And as this story has been a good lesson for me, I do hope that it will bless all those who stumbled upon this little post.
Have you ever heard of Jonah? That guy who was sent on a prophetic mission by God to Niniveh, rebelled, tried to escape by going the other way around, hurt the sailors in the ship by (indirectly) causing them to face a thunderstorm, then was took back en route to that very city he's fleeing from, and I mean, taken "by force", using the famous big fish' stomach.
Let me tell you one of the modern version of it, and a heartless Jonah at that. One day, a young worship activist in a central church got an urgent call, a modern Jonah. He was asked immediately to replace another musician in a branch church, since the musician in charge that week in that branch, forgot his schedule, and had already bought an inrevokable ticket out of town.
The first thing that came to this modern Jonah's mind was, "I don't want to, what if this will become the door for them to force me to serve in Sunday services in the branches?" And it came to his mind that the musician in the central church, who is also a new friend of his, had also served on a routine basis in that same branch church. This friend, A, was going to serve his first service in the central church. So the unwise solution that arrived on his mind was, "I'm gonna call this guy, and asked whether he can serve for this week in the branch church, and I'll replace him in the central church. Afterall, I'm an activist in the central church!"
Turns out that A has already prepared during the whole week for his first service in the central church (without the modern Jonah realizing) and has also planned to bring his friend to the service as well. The modern Jonah heartlessly told A to give the information of his friend to be followed up by other activist in the central church. A said nothing, and just OK-ed without further comments.
Pondering back in a panicked situation, the modern Jonah thought, "If I forced him to serve in the branch church, I'll be guilty for preventing his friend to come and hear the good sermon!" So he decided to submit to the call to serve in the branch, and ask somebody else to replaced him as the activist, so that A could still serve in the central church and brought his friend along.
When the modern Jonah told A that the reason he's asking to change the roster back, was because he's feeling guilty for preventing A's friend to come, unknowingly, he had badly hurt A's heart for (1) prioritizing A's friend over A, his own friend, and (2) irresponsibly forcing A to switch, effectively nullifying his every preparation for the service in the central church. It quickly escalated, and the more it progressed, the more it hurt A, and also the modern Jonah, until it's very hard to repair for the moment.
The modern Jonah failed to remember, in his effort to escape from the service God has intended him to come, that before A was his colleague in service, firstly, he was his brother in Christ, and therefore did not merit to be treated as such. Rather, he should have think of A's well being first and foremost, honoured, loved and respected A just as he honoured, loved and respected himself.
In the aftermath of the conflict, the modern Jonah also noticed signs that he had become a stumbling block for A, for A mentioned in a very dissappointed tone that perhaps "it's time for me to reflect and reconsider my plan to serve in the central church".
The nail has been nailed on the wall, and although the nail has been taken off, the hole will always be there. The wounded wall will never be the same good wall ever again.
The only thing that the modern Jonah can do is just pray for God's forgiveness on his rebellion, apologize to A, and pray once again to God that one day, according to His time and mercy, A will grant him the forgiveness that he needed. And his last prayer was for God to give His strength to both the modern Jonah and A to keep serving Him, wherever they are, and whatever the case and the condition may be.
During the pondering, the modern Jonah also realized that during his short term of service as a newly appointed activist, he had made 2 mistakes, and the second mistake (with A) is even bigger and heavier than the first mistake, which can still be corrected easily. This made the modern Jonah realize that he was actually unworthy as a servant, an activist, and had actually thought of withdrawing, before God quickly reminded him that this is not wise, and is not according to His will. Every time one of His children stopped serving, the Enemy rejoices greatly, and therefore, he can only humbly pray that God will help him to be a wise and prudent servant in every single service entrusted to him.
Now, what I've learned from the above story is:
1. Never treat our fellow servant in the church as a "servant", as if he/she is just another name in the "on duty list" that is easily changed or discarded.
Maybe we never call them such, and we never even intended to do that as well, but the way we act can give that impression. In the end, it will hurt our brethren's heart, until it's too late for us to mend it. The damage is done, and all that's left is a bad testimony and a stumbling block to our brethrens in Christ.
2. Never rebel and run away from God's purpose, lest He'll affect His plan in us in a forceful and hurtful way, both for us and the people around us, who are dear to us.
3. Our responsibility in conflict is was never to defend ourself due to pride. Instead, we are to reflect on our mistake, sincerely ask forgiveness from God and the person that we hurt (directly in a face to face conversation), and be faithful that God will help both parties to reconcile, according to His time and wisdom.
4. Always remember that in whatever we do, humble ourself on God's presence, for we are only "His unworthy servant". He is the only one who can make us worthy for every good endeavour that He entrusted to us.
May the Lord redeemed us and mold us in every single day of our life, to be more Christ-like and serve Him with a joyful heart, until we gladly meet Him face to face in the new heaven and earth.
Soli Deo Gloria.