OK, so I like Jonah.
He was kind of a *messy* believer.
Yes, he had faith in the Lord, but he wasn’t an immediately obedient servant.
I don't know about you, but sometimes it's easy to read the stories in the Bible about those who made mistakes, who disobeyed God, who were without courage – and point fingers at them.
We think, "Oh, I would never act like that."
Do we really have the audacity to throw stones (or seashells) at poor old Jonah?
I think not.
It occurs to me that sometimes we run away from the Lord, not just in disobedience, but in fear of what He's trying to accomplish in our lives.
Tarshish can be anywhere opposite of the nitty-gritty Nineveh of God's purposes.
And at times, God's purposes involve pain and suffering.
Who wants that?
And so, much like Jonah, we book tickets on the first boat out of Humility Harbor…
…only to find ourselves smack-dab in the middle of Sanctification Sea.
The recent death of my father makes me ponder this.
These are circumstances that I would never choose. But, I'm beginning to change my perspective on them. Rather than seeing them as suffering that has arrived unannounced, I'm beginning to see them as ordained assignments.
They are holy plans being offered to me by the same God who once spoke to a reluctant prophet.
"Do this," the Lord is saying, "and watch Me work."
And that becomes the moment when I have a choice.
Tarshish or Nineveh?
But, here's the thing with that.
Even if we pick Nineveh, we still might find ourselves thrown overboard into the choppy waters of Sanctification Sea.
We might be tossed around in the storms of refinement, thrashed by the wailing winds of transformation.
We might even find ourselves – gulp – inside a big ol' fish.
Even when we're obedient, we might find ourselves alone, in the dark, scared and confused.
Sadness, loneliness, fear can be like the dark insides of a whale of hurt.
Again, a choice.
Will we be swallowed up by our surroundings, or will we cry out for the rescue that will surely come?
Good old Jonah – he shows us what to do:
"Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish.
(I love that Jonah prayed, not just to God, but to the LORD his God!)
"I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble,
and he answered me.
I called to you from the land of the dead,
and LORD, you heard me!
You threw me into the ocean depths,
and I sank down to the heart of the sea.
The mighty waters engulfed me;
I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves…
I sank beneath the waves,
and the waters closed over me.
Seaweed wrapped itself around my head.
I sank down to the very roots of the mountains.
I was imprisoned in the earth…
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…
For my salvation comes from the LORD alone."
(From Jonah 2, NLT)
I love this prayer.
Is it not the cry of every heart that has gone to the depths of trials?
Does it not echo our soul groanings in the mighty waters of terrible suffering?
Ought we not utter these words when we are drowning in a sea of circumstances beyond our control?
For the Lord answers.
"Then the LORD ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach."
(Jonah 2:10, NLT)
Dear ones, where do you find yourself today?
Running away to Tarshish, or heading purposefully toward Nineveh?
Or set adrift on the swells of a stormy sea? Or perhaps you find yourself *inside the fish*?
Might you take a moment and turn toward the sky and pray?
Call out from the depths of your soul to the Lord who keeps you. Tell Him your deepest feelings. Cry if you need to, rant if you must. But turn, TURN, towards Him.
He is there.
In it all, through it all, because of it all.
He is there.
And one day, when His purposes are accomplished, He'll order you *spit out* onto the shore.
To bask in the SONshine of another wonder-full day!
And though I know not the destination,
I will fly to where He leads.
"Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble..." (Psalm 32:6-7, NIV)
"...we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance." (Psalm 66:12, ESV)
"Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched...Lord, the Lord Almighty, may those who hope in you not be disgraced...God of Israel, may those who seek you not be put to shame...I pray to you, Lord, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation. Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink; deliver me from...the deep waters. Do not let the floodwaters engulf me or the depths swallow me up or the pit close its mouth over me. Answer me, Lord, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me. Do not hide your face from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in trouble. Come near and rescue me; deliver me..." (From Psalm 69, NIV)
"The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic...The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace." (Psalm 29:3-4, 10-11, NIV)
"The LORD is king!
He is robed in majesty.
Indeed, the LORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength.
The world stands firm and cannot be shaken.
Your throne, O LORD, has stood from time immemorial.
You yourself are from the everlasting past.
The floods have risen up, O LORD.
The floods have roared like thunder; the floods have lifted their pounding waves.
But mightier than the violent raging of the seas, mightier than the breakers on the shore - the LORD above is mightier than these!
Your reign, O LORD, is holy forever and ever." (From Psalm 93, NLT)
"Take heart. It is I."
These are the words that wash over my spirit today - bringing me the calmness I so desperately crave. The waves are pretty steep, and the wind is howling loud. But, praise the Lord, I can still hear His whisper.
Are you in the stormy seas, or perhaps *inside the fish*? How is God rescuing you?
Linked today with:
Joan at SHARING HIS BEAUTY
Michelle at HEAR IT ON SUNDAY, USE IT ON MONDAY
Laura at PLAYDATES WITH GOD
Hazel at TELL ME A TRUE STORY
Jen at UNITE
Jen at SOLI DEO GLORIA
Judith at WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYS
Rachel at WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS
Jenifer at WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY
Beth at THREE WORD WEDNESDAY
Lyli at THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY
Wanda at THE FRIDAY FIVE
Laura at FAITH FILLED FRIDAY
Mel at ESSENTIAL FRIDAYS
Charlotte at SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS
Barbie at WEEKEND BREW
Sandy at STILL SATURDAY
Janis at SUNDAY STILLNESS
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