“In my distress, O LORD, I called to you, and you answered me. From deep in the world of the dead I cried for help, and you heard me” Jonah 2:2 GNB.
Meet the messenger
Imagine the scene. Here comes Jonah, squishing along the beach. He’s covered in the stomach contents of a fish and smells of vomit. His skin and hair are bleached white from stomach acids. Seaweed drapes around his shoulders. This man has a message from God? You have to be joking! Yet amazingly, the people of Nineveh listen to this unlikely messenger. They repent and turn to God.
At the beginning of my cancer treatment, I prayed that I would continue to be a witness to others of God’s love. But toward the end of the year my thinning hair looked and felt like straw. My complexion was so pale and spotted that my sons said I was “transparent.” My eyes were sunken because I had lost so much weight. I don’t think I looked quite as bad as Jonah must have looked, but I didn’t see how God could use me. Yet surprisingly, He did.
Many people listened to what I had to say. They saw God at work in my life and asked questions about my faith. The Lord opened doors for me to write about my experiences so that others would be encouraged.
Not the Messenger
Years later I wrote about my cancer experiences in a book of meditations, Strength Renewed. Many people have contacted me to share how the Lord has spoken to them through one or more of the messages. Yet they don’t even know me. I am only the messenger.
As I’ve thought many times about the story of Jonah and his terrifying fish ride, I have seen over and over again that it is not the messenger that makes the difference—it’s the message. Often when we are at our weakest, God can use us to spread His message of love and forgiveness.
As writers, how often do we face a writing project that seems beyond our abilities? We believe God wants us to tell a story, but we don’t have the experience. Perhaps we lack the knowledge. We feel we’re too young. Or too old. Inexperienced. Not well enough known. Whenever you feel that way, remember the story of Jonah. And remember, it’s not the messenger that makes the difference. It’s the message.