1 TIMOTHY 3:16-17

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us...God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work."

Sunday, January 22, 2012

JONAH - Whale of a Story

OK, so I have to start with a small admission – (confession?)

I’ve *cheated* a little on my "Bible Pick 'Ems" this week. I've *hedged my bets* so to speak.

But I've got a good reason.

There are so many great verses in the Bible, so many wonderful people. And God has much to say through the stories of their lives. But, especially when it comes to those pesky minor prophets, it would be *divine luck* indeed if I "happened to land" in their chapters.

And I just don't want to miss out!

So, I sorta fudged – I picked a book, and then I "randomly" opened my Bible.

So, with my *fessin' up* over with, let's get on with the lesson.

We're in Jonah – and I like Jonah.

Jonah is like me.

Stubborn, willful, ornery (yes, I have that capability within me). Fearful, mistrustful, doubting (definitely have that within me!) And yet, in the end – lesson learned trusting and obedient (with God's help, that is also me).

We're all quite familiar with the story of Jonah, aren't we?

The small, four-chapters-long book of Jonah is packed with great stuff.

But, today I'm pondering these verses:

"I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me. Seaweed wrapped itself around my head. I sank down to the very roots of the mountains…But you, O LORD my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! As my life was slipping away, I remembered the LORD. And my earnest prayer went out to you…" (Jonah 2:3-7)

Have you ever thought you were going to drown?

When I was younger – (oh, so much younger) – I used to go bodysurfing. I can remember *wiping out* all the time. It was really scary being tossed and turned, chewed and churned, by the mighty waves. The ocean can be a washing machine, for sure.

I remember being frightened, but I don't think I ever thought I was going to drown.

But, there was this other time.

I was on vacation with my parents, my sister, and my brother. We rented a cabin on Bass Lake in Northern California. And we went water-skiing…all the time.

My dad liked to get us up really early in the morning to go out – before all the other people got up – before the water got all choppy.

It was glorious water-skiing on that glassy expanse of clear water.

I remember this one morning, this one very cold morning, and I had just finished my "run."I was freezing. I had myself all bundled up in my jacket and like, two or more towels. I was wrapped like a mummy.

My brother was skiing, and my sister was keeping watch. Dad was steering the boat. Well, my brother got all "fancy" and fell trying to execute some crazy maneuver. My sister cried out to my dad to turn around, and as he leaned on the steering wheel to make a very sharp U-turn, the plastic steering wheel broke.

The boat went crazy.

And I, wrapped up like King Tut, slid erratically to one side of the boat, and then rapidly to the other. My sister tried to grab me, but I slipped out of her hand.

And so, I plunged over the side of the boat.

I was terrified!

The waters were seething around me – I was pretty sure that the outboard motor was going to shred me to bits and if that didn't kill me, then my swaddling layers would.

Somehow, (and I think it was God), those towels loosened, and I was finally able to claw my way back to the surface very nearly at the end of my breath.

I gasped, I choked – I floated there numb.

Finally, the boat made its way back to me, I was dragged on board, and that's when I freaked out. I hyperventilated, I sobbed uncontrollably. I had a total panic attack. The shivering was no longer just because of the cold.

But, I lived.

I can only imagine the horror that Jonah felt as he was sinking, entangled in seaweed, running out of breath. I'm thinking that that "random" hungry fish was a very good sight to behold! (I love how the Bible puts it: "Now the LORD had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah" – 1:17)

Here's where my lesson is for today.

Jonah said, "AS MY LIFE WAS SLIPPING AWAY, I remembered the LORD."

This sounds like me.

Why do I so often wait until the last minute to call on God?

Why do I have to be on the edge of panic before I turn to Him?

Why must I be drowning in confusion, or fear, or doubt, or any other emotion, before I finally "remember" the Lord?

Why do I wait?

I don't always, but so very often (too often) I do.

The Lord was there for Jonah, and He's always been there for me, too. I have to think, though, that many times when I finally cry out to HimHis first thought is probably this:

"What took you so long?"

I'm learning to make God my FIRST *go-to* – the One place that I immediately turn to in my times of trial and struggle. I'm practicing making my *earnest prayer* go out to God before I start to drown. I'm asking Him to save me before I start to sink.

He will.

"For my salvation comes from the LORD alone." (Jonah 2:10)

God's mercy is even deeper than those waters that threaten to overtake me. He is stronger than those fearsome waves.

He longs to rescue me, even before I need it.

So, I'm going to practice trusting and obeying in the beginning, turning to Him before I'm overwhelmed leaning on His faithfulness, relying on His ability to keep me from drowning in this life of woe sending my prayers out FIRST THING…

…so He doesn't have to *fish me out* after the fact!

Do you turn to God in the beginning of your troubles, or does He sometimes have to "send a fish"?

"When in doubt, search God out!"


  1. A Blessed SONday Sharon... I changed your link to over here (the place for the long winded...or as Debbie put it for herself "yak much", guess that's me)(so you think I could always comment over here to avoid censorship and my wounded spirit, even though she directed it to herself, I caught the drift)with this WHALE of a story too!!!

    How appropriate this choice, even if you 'stacked the deck'... is that the same as 'hedged your... selection' because this is the reading for Day 23 in "Completely Loved"... dear ole Jonah. So God knew, I linked to here.

    What a horrific experience for you with water skiing (I love water skiing, although I don't have much experience or many experiences, I do know this feeling of drowning)...Praise God for loosing that wrapping and now we must do the rest!!!

    No wonder you have such anxiety... now we've gotten to the root of this panic/fear/ worry nature so we are breaking it off right here in Jesus Name... no wrapped up in panic with this any longer, you are loosed from this power right now in the Name of Jesus!!!

    I chuckled with the 'ocean can be a washing machine'... but it's so true, even though Jonah was in a Great Sea,
    same destructive power of currents.

    Wonderful lesson learned to go to the Source of all things first! I love how you summed this up, always great spiritual insight and application.

    I'm so thankful for all the times that God has "fished me out", I pray that neither one of us, need Him to send a BIG fish to swallow us up... since we have enough with the waves that engulf us and the current that tugs at us.

    And the answer to that clincher question... BOTH! I often go running to Him before the troubles, before they begin, or when they begin and sometimes
    I forgot until I get hit with the SWOOOSH of a tumultuous wave and wonder where that came from... and sometimes
    I am swallowed up without even noticing
    that I was near any difficulty then I quickly access and run to Him. Sometimes like you in your water skiing, I am all wrapped up, feeling safe and warm, and WHAM... swallowed alive. And I wonder, God, how did this happen, what did I forget to do... didn't a put on my full armor... haven't we been in close contact? Why?
    (thinking of my 2nd rape in this case)

    Anyways, I pray that we won't be overwhelmed but we will go well prepared on our future fishing expeditions... or any water experiences
    that we are covered by the Victorious Spirit and strength to overcome and come up higher!!!

    Thanks Sharon...great Word as I apply it, may I remember your lesson on Jonah and the BIG FISH!!!

    Love and hugs,

  2. Hi Sharon,
    I am glad you survived falling overboard. That must have been quit scary. I too can relate to Jonah. Sometimes I am slow to call out to God. Great post and God bless,


"So I have been greatly encouraged in the midst of my troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives me new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How I thank God for you!"
(1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!