Wednesday, August 14, 2013

jonah: a life renewed in the leviathan (part 3)

Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him. But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:15-17)

Can you imagine being Jonah in this situation? You have just been thrown into a wild, raging sea. The only prospect for your survival is the very ship that you were just tossed from - and it is quickly sailing far away from you. You struggle to keep your head above water while the forceful currents swell and toss you all around. Waves crash down over and over your weakening body. You begin to question if there will be another opportunity to gasp for breath. And then suddenly, the ocean grows calm. In the distance you hear the sailors voices worshipping to the One True Lord, but you can no longer see their faces or share God's glory with them. Only a small outline of their vanishing ship can be seen on the horizon. Soon they will be gone and you will be alone, stranded, helpless... destined to drown.

Soon, everything becomes very quiet. Your body is fatigued and you are unable to do anything but float on your back and look up at the expanse of sky above. You close your tired eyes and listen to the slow steadiness of the waves and the squawks of the seagulls circling above. It is in this desperate, weakened moment that your stubborn will finally stops running from God. Humility emerges. And you begin to consider what the Lord originally asked of you and your foolish reasons to rebel against His command.

Then, without warning, you feel the water below you swell again. But this time it is different. You try your best to swim to the surface for a one last gasp of air, but soon you realize that breathing is no longer your biggest problem. No, your surroundings have changed. The air pressure is different. The walls around you are mushy and the order is foul. You find yourself lost in darkness, trapped amongst indecipherable creatures. You soon realize that you are in the belly of a monstrous leviathan. A whale? A large fish? You aren't sure. But you are blindly struggling and in a panic. Oxygen, however, is sparse. Space is limited. So, you must calm yourself and deliberately breathe steady, slowly, sparingly. As your heartbeat quiets, you once again seek God in prayer. While praying, you are soon comforted by His presence and reminded of His promises. You realize that even in this moment - He has a plan for you. Isolated, barely alive, stranded in the dark belly of a fish, lost in the middle of the open sea... you find His peace and assurance. Once again, your time is His time. You've reached the end of yourself and surrender. Your life is His life to do with as He pleases.

From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. He said: "In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, 'I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.' The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God. When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD."

And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. (Jonah, Chapter 2)

It has been concluded that the four essential biological ingredients for survival in order of priority are: (1) an adequate supply of breathable air; (2) a tolerable ambient temperature; (3) the provision of potable water; and (4) sufficient edible food. In terms of someone surviving at sea, these ingredients can be translated into: (1) protection against drowning; (2) protection from temperature extremes (3) protection from dehydration; and (4) amelioration of the longer effects of starvation. In order to save Jonah from his mistake, God provided a great fish to physically "house" him while meeting these essential needs and ultimately saving Jonah's life. In doing so, God had broken the hard-hearted will of His prophet and restored their broken relationship in the most peculiar way. When all was said and done, Jonah's life was no longer about personal idols or his reliance on basic human needs such as air, temperature, or food. No, by the time God ordered the fish to vomit Jonah onto dry land, the humbled prophet was ready to trust and obey the Word of the Almighty God. He was ready to be used as a living sacrifice rather than a lukewarm suggestion.

Ladies, I encourage you to consider the areas of your life where you continue to walk in direct violation against God's word. Learn from Jonah's crazy routes. Repent of these sins and turn from your ways. Your life is not your own if you have claimed Jesus as Savior. Repent and open the door to Him rather than run farther away from His redeeming, restorative grace. As we conclude today's lesson, please consider God's teaching from the book of Revelation:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (Revelation 3:14b-22)

Ladies, I pray that you will hear the King. Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles you from following His commands. Receive today what Jonah had to learn from the belly of a whale swimming deep in the ocean. Humble yourself and choose to walk forward in God's perfect ways. He has great plans for you! Just take one step at a time, closer and closer to His throne.

The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death. (Proverbs 14:27)

Until tomorrow... Blessings!
Blog Posting Written By Victoria Anderson

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