Have you ever been stuck in the belly of a fish for 3 days? Did God ever give you time to just sit alone in silence, inside a fish, and contemplate the mistakes you’ve made?
But Jonah had that chance, and we should take it upon ourselves to learn from him.
The other day Jonah taught us about the importance of making our bed when we are told.
We were I was reminded that I will have to give an account of all my wrongdoings on the day of judgement. The idea of that should be like the best episode of Scared Straight ever (was that an actual show?). But, I still feel that pull to choose my Self over my God.
Jonah chose his Self, ran from God, almost killed a bunch of people on a boat and ended up in the ocean. You would think that would make for a pretty bad day. But it got worse. He ended up in the belly of a fish. Regardless of the size of the fish, I can’t imagine that being a comfortable place to hang out. He wasn’t putting a “Boys only” sign out front and creating a secret knock for his buddies. This must have been a tight, cramped, dark, wet, miserable place to be. My claustrophobia is telling me I would not like it there for a single minute. Jonah endured it for 3 days.
As is the case with God, good can always come from a sticky situation. Jonah had some time to ponder the decisions he had made in his life; to think over the reasons why he chose something other than God. Despite sharing space with krill and other small sea creatures, and the prospect of being digested by a fish and turned into ocean floor fertilizer, Jonah came to this conclusion:
Jonah 2:6-9 (NLT)
But you, O LORD my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! As my life was slipping away, I remembered the LORD. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple. Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies. But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the LORD alone.”
Isn’t this what we do so often? We wait until that rock bottom moment when all seems lost to cry out to God and let him know how awesome he is. “As my life was slipping away, I remembered the Lord.” I almost wonder if this was just another way Jonah chose himself over God. It was an act of self preservation. Who doesn’t remember God when they are about to die? But, God, being God, knew that Jonah was being genuine in his cry and reacted as only a father would:
Jonah 2:10 (NLT)
Then the LORD ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.
Nothing says love like being spit out onto the beach. I would do the same for my son.
That’s what is so awesome about God. He’s all about second chances…and third, and fourth, and fifth…
He loves us so much that he is always willing to let us fall, let us fail, and let us fight for his love again (not that we ever lost it). And, in the end he will always forgive us.
When was your fish belly moment?