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 Him – His 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.
"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!"