Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Awake in the Dark

Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the fish, and he said, "I called out of my distress to the LORD, and He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; Thou didst hear my voice. Jonah 2: 1-2

In chapter one Jonah is asleep in the light, but at this point we find him awake in the dark. God had appointed a great fish to swallow his disobedient prophet. I have heard it said that we can choose to disobey, but we don’t get to choose the consequences. Although Satan isn’t mentioned in this passage we can detect his presence. Doesn’t he fill our thoughts with what it will cost if we obey God? He will never breathe a word of what it will cost us to disobey.

I can’t imagine the horror and hopelessness that must have gripped Jonah as the reality of his predicament began to sink in. Oh wait, yes I can. I have experienced the sickening realization that my disobedience is exacting a higher price than I ever dreamed. Often our thoughts are self-centered and not focused on how we have spurned the direction of our God. We count the loss to ourselves and not the loss to His kingdom. Finally, Jonah says, “While I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple.” 2:7 The focus finally shifts from the consequences to the heart of the matter, which was the matter of Jonah’s heart. He seems to be coming to the place of compliance and the acknowledgement that there is no way out except for the Lord’s salvation.

Our God resides over this whole potentially disastrous story in majestic splendor. He saves the sailors physically and more importantly spiritually despite the terrible example set by Jonah. He rescues Jonah from certain death through a manner so incredible that it becomes a sign of the death, burial and resurrection of the coming Messiah. Matthew 12:40 Only God can come into the middle of our folly, redeem it, and use it for His glory.

Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land. Jonah 2:10 Deliverance can be messy and this was no exception. I wish more could be said for Jonah. As his story unfolds, we see Jonah never did get his attitude straightened out. I know better than to sit in harsh judgment on him. I am just glad that our God uses imperfect people to carry out His purposes. I am glad that He is a God of second chances. I am so glad that within the hidden folds of our story redemption can be found.

MY PRAYER: Lord, thank you for your patient and longsuffering attitude towards your people. Thank you for redeeming the messes that we make when we reject your plans for us. Thank you Jesus for being obedient and drinking an unwanted cup for our sake. You are beautiful beyond description. Amen.

No comments: