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Posts Tagged ‘Matthew 18:21-35, the parable of the unmerciful servant, the story of the unforgiving debtor, Jesus’ parables, stories Jesus told, crèches in church, young children in church, visiting speakers, Ch’

Jo 12I admit it does take a little effort to remember those years when I was a busy, young mum living in South Australia. It is quite a while ago, after all! But this past week, in the second or two it took for me to read one sentence from a story Jesus told, I was there again, in the midst of an event that happened way back then.

I was holding our baby son in the crèche during a Sunday morning service. As I stood rocking him gently, someone began reading aloud Matthew 18:21-35, the parable of unmerciful servant. At that point, I was kind of listening, but I was also distracted and concerned about our son—I knew he was quite unwell. Yet as soon as I heard the servant’s words in verse 26, something happened. In an instant, God had my attention.

‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’

Why did these words jump out at me? After all, they are nothing more than a simple cry for mercy. Yet God used them in an amazing way, completely out of their context in the story, to speak to me. From then on, I heard nothing more—not even the input from the excellent visiting speaker about the real point of this story Jesus told. It was as if an electric current had run through me and I had been shocked into seeing things clearly in my life. You see, through those few words, I knew God was saying in a loving but firm, confronting way: ‘This is how you have been treating me, Jo-Anne!

I was a young mum with two little children at the time. I was busy with so many things—looking after my family, cooking, gardening, sewing, shopping, cleaning. I was also involved in at least two ministries of the church. My faith was real—but I knew I had lost that close, intimate relationship with Jesus I had once had. If I had any spare time during my day, I would rarely decide to spend it with him. Instead, I chose to do all the other interesting things I liked so much more—playing the piano, singing, reading, writing letters. After all, Jesus would still be there when I was less busy and had nothing more interesting to do.

In essence, I had been saying to God, ‘Just be patient—you can wait. When I’m good and ready, I’ll spend more time with you.’ What an insult! How dare I treat my loving, heavenly Father in this way? I felt as if a knife had been plunged through me. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remember thinking, ‘So this is what that little phrase “cut to the heart” must mean!’ I knew I could never ‘pay back’ the huge debt I owed God for sending Jesus and for saving me, but surely I could give God first place in my life, along with all due honour and respect?

That morning, a whole new, more intimate journey with God began. And today, I am still reaping the benefits of God’s grace to me in challenging my ‘when I’m good and ready’ attitude back then.

I want to be ready—all the time. Don’t you?

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