In the Belly of the Whale

After a restless few hours of tossing and turning, I finally decided to give up on sleep at 3 a.m. this morning and take advantage of the time to work on a new writing assignment.

God had a lot to share with me this morning about the Scripture readings I was asked to meditate on and write about for the Lenten season in 2020. So I am short on sleep and work will be difficult to get through today, but I am glad I answered God’s call to get up.

If I wouldn’t have followed the urging to get out of bed, I would not have had the time alone with God to reflect on his word. Sometimes the God of my understanding works like that. He makes it impossible to ignore his call. Am I always ready when he does? No. Am I always willing? No. Do I try to ignore him when he calls? Yes, sometimes. I tried to sleep through it last night.

That’s the thing about the God of my understanding. He’s very patient and very persistent. Speaking of the patience and persistence of God …

One of the Scripture readings I was meditating on this morning was out of the book of Jonah who tried to ignore God’s call to get the people of Ninevah to repent of their sins. He climbs aboard a boat sailing for Tarshish to flee from God. “The Lord, however, hurled a great wind upon the sea, and the storm was so great that the ship was about to break up.” The sailors finally confront Jonah: “Tell us why this evil has come to us! What is your business? Where do you come from? What is your country, and to what people do you belong?” Jonah then says, “I am a Hebrew,” he replied; “I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” The sailors then knew he was trying to run from God, and asked him what to do. Jonah finally says: “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea and then the sea will calm down for you. For I know that this great storm has come upon you because of me.”


Credit: user:CCXpistiavos 

At this point, I’m betting you know the rest of the story. Jonah is tossed overboard and ends up spending three days and nights in the belly of a large fish where he cries out to God. “Then the Lord commanded the fish to vomit Jonah upon dry land.” Jonah answers God’s call and obediently returns to the Ninevites, urging them to repent to avoid God’s wrath (which they do).

Jonah is one of the shortest books in the Bible, but it is rich in lessons. One is, God is very persistent. If he wants you to act or move in a certain direction, God will allow you to get very uncomfortable until you follow his call. Another lesson is that he is merciful when he sees that we sincerely repent of our sins. Sometimes when we try to ignore his will, it gets “stormy” in our lives. We may not wind up in the belly of a large whale like Jonah, but God will allow us to get swallowed up in difficulties until we cry out to him. When we finally relent, he shows us mercy.

Lord, help me to answer your call today, regardless of whether I want to or not. Give me the strength and the courage to carry out your will in all my activities today. 


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