Have you ever wondered if your life could ever make an impact? Perhaps you have listened to people of your past or present who repeatedly belittle you - making any hope of "impacting" the world a little less than a vision for you. Or maybe you have tried to make an impact - venturing into this area or another, only to have run into brick walls and resistant forces. Impact is really nothing more than being an influence. It doesn't matter what we do (or don't do, for that matter), we are "impacting" someone!
5 The people of Nineveh listened, and trusted God. They proclaimed a citywide fast and dressed in burlap to show their repentance. Everyone did it — rich and poor, famous and obscure, leaders and followers. (Jonah 3:5 The Message)
Jonah told himself he could never impact the city of Ninevah - a huge city which took nearly three days to traverse. He was one man, on a mission. The impact of one can influence the masses - when the steps of the one are ordered by God.
Imagine being in his shoes for a moment. This is a huge city, made up of those of differing beliefs than his. He is about to enter into some pretty "unfamiliar" territory. Isn't this one of the hardest things we are asked to do - going where we are the least familiar? I'd like us to consider this important fact - God often sends those who are least familiar because they are less likely to make excuses for the actions they see! In fact, God often uses the one who comes with "new eyes" into the situation because they have no preconceived "limitation" on how they can alter the situation.
He goes one day's walk into the city limits. The crowds are gathering around as this one solitary preacher delivers the message of God's condemnation of this entire city. Imagine the impact this message had the potential of making in Jonah's life! Here he was, a foreigner with a very unpopular message, proclaiming it just as God had asked. I'd be trembling in my sandals, folks! I trust God, but come on! One against a city? The odds don't seem fairly stacked, do they? Oh, did I forget to mention it was one OBEDIENT soul against a city? God can do more with one obedient soul than he can with a million wishy-washy, mamby-pamby pew-warmers! Uh oh! Gone to meddling now!
Whenever we get "real" with God, he gets "real" IN us. This reality of God's presence with Jonah was definitely an influence within the city of Ninevah. It was more than the message - it was the evidence of God within this preacher which made the difference! The presence of God determined the impact! It is the presence of God in your life which alters the lives of those you are called to influence today!
The story goes on to tell us even the king was touched. The entire city is called to a fast - a time of mourning for their sin, deep repentance, and seeking God's mercy. Look at who God used to accomplish this - a man who had just experienced afresh the mercy of God! Nothing speaks louder to those we have the potential to influence (impact) than the mercy of God evident in our own lives! If you think you have nothing to offer a hurting world - think again! The mercy of God speaks clearly even when we think we have nothing "good" to offer!