Have you ever been asked to do something one way but you decided to do it another? In college I had a track coach who was an All-American a few years earlier in the event he was coaching me in. He wanted me and a teammate to train a certain way, but we didn’t like that regimen, so we dogged it, did it our own way, and most likely never lived up to our potential. Well, at least me, my teammate was also a great football player and played a few years in the NFL.
We are a disobedient people. We do not like to be told what to do and when to do it, even if those requests are for our own good and in our best interests. And there consequences to our actions, and sometimes those consequences are negative to us and our loved ones.
You might be familiar with a story in the Old Testament in which Jonah was asked by God to go to the wicked city of Nineveh and bring the people there to repentance. That didn’t sound like a good idea to Jonah. His words in Jonah 4:2 tell us that he didn’t believe the Ninevites would listen to him. So, rather than obeying God, Jonah jumped on the next boat heading out of town, literally. He boarded a ship headed to the Tarshish. Compared to the dangers of going to Nineveh, this ship offered freedom and liberation as it sailed on the expanses of the wide open Mediterranean Sea. The lure of the unknown beckoned Jonah. Have you ever found yourself in that place?
During the voyage, the ship encountered a storm and the sailors cast lots to see who was responsible for this storm endangering them. The story tells us that it was determined that Jonah was the cause of the storm, so to save their own lives, the sailors through Jonah overboard.
But Jonah did not drown. It is likely that he bobbed up and down in the waters before being swallowed by a big fish and was in his belly for three days and three nights. So, this fish really saved Jonah’s life. Even in our disobedience, God rescues us. That does not mean there will not be consequences, but in God’s sovereignty and loving care, he saves us.
What was the first thing Jonah did once he was “safe” in the belly of the fish? He realized his wrong doing (sin) and prayed to God. This was not a prayer of “Oh God, help me!” Instead, Jonah prayed a prayer of thanksgiving. This prayer begins with these words – “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.” (Jonah 2:2)
Jonah’s prayer ends with him acknowledging that salvation and hope comes from God and God alone. After he finished praying, the fish vomited Jonah onto dry land. We encourage you to read the story of Jonah. The book is just four short chapters.
Have you ever found yourself in the belly of a big fish?
So, today, we ask you, are you fully surrendered to God? Do you obey Him even when it isn’t convenient? Are you repenting of your sins and receiving God’s forgiveness and the freedom that comes with it?
New Bern, North Carolina