Today’s Reading: Jonah 2:1-3 NIV
1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord His God. 2 He said, “In my distress I called to the Lord, and He answered me. 3 From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.”
My mother asked me to do something that I really did not want to do. Being a very mature eight year old girl, I decided the only solution to this dilemma was to pack a bag and leave home. Quietly, I pulled my small overnight back from the closet shelf and began to pack my things. Funny, I don’t remember packing any food, only some play clothes and a doll baby that I slept with at night. I thought I’d be able to simply sneak out of the house unnoticed, but I wasn’t so lucky. Mother opened the front door for me as I began my independent adventure. She simply said, “Goodbye, Deborah. We will miss you.”
I think I managed to get about half down the street before I realized I had no place to go. Some of our neighbors had come outside and were sitting on their porches. The mothers were waving and asking me where I was going. I think my mom must have picked up the telephone and called every neighbor on the block, asking them to watch for me. Mrs. Ann offered me a couple of her homemade chocolate chip cookies and some ice cold lemonade. I sat on her front porch and talked with her for awhile. She asked me why I was leaving home. I confessed that I couldn’t do what my mother had asked me to, and I was afraid to tell her no. She placed her arm on my shoulder and softly said, “Dear, your mother is missing you so very much right now. Go home and talk to her. Tell her how you really feel. She will listen to you, because she loves you. And remember, if your mother asks you to do something, she probably has a very good reason for making the request.” I was winded and out of breath, running up to my house as fast as I could with the suitcase in hand, shouting, “Mommy, I’m home!” She was genuinely glad to see me. I know this, because she was snapping a photograph of my return entrance with her Polaroid® camera.
We can learn a lot from our child’s play; yet, we often we forget the meaning behind the message in our adult lives. Take Jonah, for instance. By refusing to do what the Father has asked, Jonah decided to run away from God. Didn’t he know that the Father would never let him out of His sight, even for a minute? He was in a world of trouble, and even the unbelieving pagan sailors recognized his cries for help. The storm that nearly shipwrecked the crew headed for Tarshish that night was caused by one man’s unwillingness to obey God’s call. Sin has a way of catching up to us. Have you ever been through a storm that jeopardized the safety of others, knowing it was your own fault?
When Jonah realized he had no place to go except to the deep, he chose to jump ship to save the others on the ship. At first, the crew tried to get back to shore. When they realized they could not, they prayed for forgiveness before throwing Jonah overboard. Sometimes, we just have to take that plunge of faith before we can experience His saving mercy and grace.
God sent a big fish to swallow Jonah to keep him alive. Sometimes, when we’re stuck in the dark and slimy pit of sin, we have no place to return except back home. Jonah prayed a sincere prayer of repentance, knowing that his willful disobedience had completely separated him from the One he loved. When we choose to disobey God, we find ourselves in a world of trouble with no one to guide us. We separate ourselves from the only One who can save us. Yet, we find that even in the belly of a big fish, there is eternal hope for you and me. As long as there is breath in our bodies, we still time to confess our sin, ask for God’s forgiveness, and turn around.
Jonah needed to face his Nineveh, but he didn’t have to go it alone. Are you ready to take that leap of faith, and come back home?
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
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