Jonah. Or: When Big Fish Are Pressed Into God’s Service.
“The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, ‘What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?’ ‘Pick me up and throw me into the sea,’ he replied, ‘and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.’”– Jonah 1:11-12 (NIV)
17 Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. ~Jonah 1:17 (NIV)
What if some of the things that bring us misfortune are not caused by an evil world, but by our own willfully being out of alignment with God’s will for us? As you remember God bid Jonah travel to Nineveh and preach repentance to the king and all the people. God wanted to reach out to that evil empire one more time to save them from themselves. But Jonah hated and feared the Ninevites and wanted God to destroy them, every one, even the cattle they owned.
Being in God’s service as a prophet was no small thing, but Jonah’s earthly thinking took control and Jonah rebelled against God in this – I mean really rebelled. He went down to the sea and searched for a ship that was going in the opposite direction of Nineveh. He did not merely tell God he would not do it and just sit still, he traveled – ran – as far away from Nineveh as he could travel, that was his plan.
It was not because Jonah was unsure if he heard God correctly, he understood clearly God’s directing message. Jonah’s pre-positional fear-inflamed bigotry against all things Ninevite was ruling over him. But, God! – But, God! – But, God intervened and made it clear to Jonah that he would have Jonah complete his mission and do as commanded. God did not say, “Have it your own way, Jonah” and cut Jonah loose to the just results of his own devices, choosing somebody else to complete the task. That would be unkind of God. He was ever caring of Jonah and in no way lost His love for him. But, He did make it a drastic and dramatic turn-around for Jonah as a lesson to him – and to us.
I think about the things I hear of so many in mainstream active churches willfully misreading and misinterpreting God’s direction in the Bible for the sake of supporting their own bigotries in favor of a lifestyle they choose to follow; while willfully twisting God’s direction, thereby actively running from God. All the while protesting that they are God’s people, as they reject correction and heaping hateful names on would-be correctors. Makes me wonder how many “big fish” God may be raising up for eventual use in His service. Of course, figuratively speaking. Probably. Maybe not.
At the end of my own rebellion telling God to leave me alone and stop hounding me; stopping my car along side the road, stepping out, and shaking my fist at Him(actually toward some clouds in the sky) as I did this. Telling Him I didn’t need His help, I would let Him know when the time came. Sputter -sput – sputter. And then? And then… In a short span of time |**A “big fish”**came along and swallowed me, spitting me out at the throne of God, with Christ Jesus, the Savior leaning down to pick me up, brushing seaweed off me, and asking, “Now what were you saying?”**|
I instantly fell in love – real love, like none I had ever experienced before or like it since; an everlasting love. With the Savior of my life and soul.
|**Yes, this portion is figuratively speaking in so far the drastic type occurrence, but the end result is accurate**|
3 “And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”Romans 2: 3-4
~|All of verse four worked like He meant it with me at just the right time. God’s time. His goodness captivated my heart, my will, my life, my mind, my view of life in general. I felt like I had been awakened a second time and was seeing things around me for the first time. Which I was. And it was all GOOD. I was determined I would never disobey Him ever again. But I did. And each time He sent another big fish. But each time the big fish got smaller — and now they just kind of nod when they come close to me and point the way back from my deviation. And they look not at all like a fish, but a Carpenter… walking on water.| -g.w
“For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17)
For further reading background reference try: capitolcom.org/virginia/studies/947/2012/05/31/intro-to-jonah-nineveh-the-most-cruel-capital
And, of course, the Bible, God’s own word to be sure!