Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time…Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh (Jonah 3:1-2).
A God of second chances—that’s who we serve, Baby.
After all the grief that Jonah caused, after the arrogance he showed, after the downright in-your-face disobedience he displayed toward the Lord of the Universe, God gave him a second chance. And not just forgiveness—a second chance to serve, to be His instrument on Earth. God could have ditched Jonah and called someone else, but he didn’t. Because Jonah was every bit as important to God as the people he was sent to warn.
Frankly, I probably would have left him in the fish.
Call it reason #3,874 to be glad I am not God.
OK Beloved, so maybe you’ve messed up along the way. You’ve been disobedient, you’ve had to face God’s discipline.
That does not mean that you are through. Your mission still awaits you. Your Lord still calls.
There’s the road, kid.
And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land (Jonah 2:10).
Lovely image, don’t you think?
I wonder why we don’t hear more worship songs built around this verse.
It isn’t always pretty, the way God works. It isn’t always glamorous. Sometimes it will leave you humbled, disheveled, and smelling of fish innards.
And yet…he’s still working.
May I make a suggestion, Beloved? As you embark on your Thursday, be on the lookout for the ways in which God is providing for you and protecting you. It may not be apparent at first glance. That minor illness may be God’s way of allowing you to rest. That undesired overtime may be his way of paying the rent. Be assured of this: if you’re his, then he’s working in, through, and for you.
No matter what it looks like.
Wipe the fish goo out of your eyes and look around. He’s doing amazing things.
Because you are his Beloved.
“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” (Jonah 2:8)
What do you cling to, Beloved?
Who do you trust?
God, of course!
Yeah, it’s the “And” that gets me, too.
Look, I know you don’t worship stuffed animals or pray to little porcelain figurines.
But that doesn’t mean you don’t have idols. And those idols, those things that you trust instead of trusting God, they get in the way. You see, you have to choose who you’re going to trust. The Lord of the Universe is not big on sharing power. If you insist that you can make it on your own, he’s likely to let you.
And you’ve been down that road before.
Your strength, your money, your intelligence, your looks, your ability to make a really great chicken salad—enjoy them. Use them wisely, and glorify God with them.
But don’t cling to them.
Don’t forfeit grace.
Happy Wednesday, Beloved.
“When my life was ebbing away I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you…” (Jonah 2:7)
You tread water for as long as you can, but then your strength is gone.
The water closes over your head.
You look up and see the light that you can no longer reach. It grows dimmer as you drop down and down, away from light and air and warmth and life.
But as you drift down, your prayers rise up.
And he hears you. And he sends a fish to swallow you, which I gotta say is a really weird part of the metaphor, but it represents the whole rescue thing.
Sometimes God’s the only hope you have, and that’s when you remember:
And then some.
And then some more.
Happy Tuesday, Beloved.
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.” (Jonah 2:2)
Do you remember, Beloved?
Do you remember when you called out to him?
Do you remember the pit—so dark, so deep?
The despair was palpable.
The sorrow, tangible.
But he answered.
Do you remember?
Let this be a day of remembrance, Beloved. Drink deep of the memory. Let it roll around in your heart. Taste its fullness. Then let it sink deep into your spirit, to refresh and sustain you.
Now you can look Today square in the eye.
Walk in confidence, Beloved.
From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God (Jonah 2:1).
We all need to take a break from the world from time to time, sort of get away from the busyness and reconnect with God.
You may go to the mountains
or to the desert
or just to a quiet room with a closed door
or…you know…a fish.
Sometimes we refuse to take that break, and God forces a rest upon us.
He might send an illness
or a layoff
or a flight cancellation
Jonah didn’t ask for the fish, as he didn’t ask for the storm or the mission to Nineveh. But he recognizes the fish for the provision it is, and he uses the time to reconnect with God and get his priorities straight.
At least for the moment.
And what about you, Beloved?
Are you taking time to fellowship with the One who loves you? When was the last time you got away from the Crazy—if only for a few minutes—to let God restore, re-center, reconnect you? Because if you don’t, he will.
Because you are his Beloved.
Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm…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).
Was it real? Is Scripture literal here?
Well, the theotechnical answer would be…yeppers.
In Matthew 12, Jesus said, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
Yeah, so, apparently Jesus believed it.
That’ll work for me.
What amazes me—apart from, you know, being in a fish for three days and living to tell the tale (tail?)—is that God provided rescue in the midst of discipline. I mean, God could have let Jonah drown—he deserved it—and then raised up someone else to preach to the Ninevites. But God’s message of judgment, repentance, and mercy was played out in Jonah’s life before he ever even got to Nineveh.
Also worth noting is that Jonah did not experience that provision—that grace—until he accepted responsibility for his sin and stepped out in faith and obedience. Perhaps the fish was there the entire time, but Jonah didn’t see it until he hit the water.
Last thought: did you notice that Jonah did not throw himself into the sea? He knew what needed to be done, and he was willing, but it seems that the idea of leaping into the raging storm was a little much for him. Spirit willing, flesh weak—that sort of thing. I’m kinda glad about that.
It makes me think that there may be hope for me yet.
Happy Thursday, Beloved.
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)
Way to own it, Jonah.
We make so many excuses. We give so many reasons to justify our actions.
Or our inactions.
I teach middle school. Trust me, I’ve heard about every excuse there is. Those lovely little people can shift the blame like nobody’s business. Somehow, in their world, the responsibility for failing a test, not doing homework, chewing gum, talking out of turn, falls squarely on the shoulders of
It is refreshing when on occasion I meet a student—or an adult, for that matter—who is willing to stand up and take responsibility for their actions.
No matter the consequences.
Lord, I am like Jonah in so many ways–make this one of them.
It’s not the easy way, Beloved.
But it is The Way.
They asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”
He answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God of Heaven, who made the sea and the land.” (Jonah 8-9)
He ran from God.
He stood for God.
In the midst of the calamity that was his fault, surrounded by angry, frightened accusers pointing the finger at him, confronted by the disastrous results of his own disobedience, Jonah did not deny who he was or to whom he belonged.
Would we do as well, Beloved?
I hope so.
All the sailors were afraid, and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship (Jonah 1:5).
What a sad picture.
These frantic men, faced with a problem that was way beyond them.
Calling out to gods that are not God.
Attempting to solve a spiritual crisis by worldly means. Hurting themselves because worldly wisdom says it will help. Because that’s all they know.
That used to be us, Beloved.
Sometimes, it still is.
I’m going to avoid the “Storms of life” metaphor. It’s already in your head anyway. Let me just remind you of this: You know the false gods you called on in the past, and you know they were powerless. As for fixing things yourself…well…you remember how that worked out.
But you are no longer that person. Now, you know who to cry out to. You know who can rescue you. And you know that Pride is the only thing keeping you from calling for help.
Pride, threatening to drag you to the bottom of the metaphoric ocean.
Throw that nasty little piece of cargo overboard and call out to Him, Beloved.
He’s waiting for you.