Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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18 Alone with God in the Belly of a Fish

Jonah 1:17; 2:1-2

17 Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights. 1Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish. 2 He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead and Lord, you heard me!

As people we long to be free, but what is freedom? Is it doing what we want, is it being the captain of our own destiny? The most terrifying aspect of Jonah’s plight is when he realizes that God almost gave him what he wanted–to be free from God. Jonah wanted to run from God, now the reality of that choice brings Jonah to repentance. He rejected God, but God didn’t reject him! Which direction are you heading in today, are you running from or to God?  Jonah returned to God, not as someone expecting special privileges, but as a rebel in need of forgiveness. In the depths of the sea he discarded his pride. The highest moment of our life is the moment when we turn to God, confessing our sins.

Our disobedience always leads us away from God onto a road of destruction. Verse 2 states that Jonah found himself in “the land of the dead” heading toward death. Death is the destination on the road of disobedience and Jonah admits that he is as good as dead, but God reached out and rescued him! God’s intention is to return Jonah back to a right relationship. So many of us have a wrong view of our heavenly Father, we think He is just waiting for us to mess up so He can punish us. Yet what we see in the life of Jonah is a God who is there to save Jonah from his disobedience. How do you respond to God’s correction? A father who loves his children doesn’t turn his back when they go astray.

Verse 1 describes the place of Jonah’s time Alone with God, in the belly of the fish. It’s an interesting place to be alone with God, not what one would choose, yet Jonah had a very secluded spot. Away from the distractions, God now had Jonah’s undivided attention.  Do you have a secluded spot where God has your attention?  So many times we want God to pay attention to us, only to ignore Him. Is your time alone with God one way is it about Him paying attention to you or are you paying attention also?

Jonah knew his situation was his fault, yet when he “called to the Lord” (vs 1), God responded. Sometimes our trials are the result of our disobedience and unlike Jonah we don’t want to admit fault, it’s easier to blame others, even God, so we don’t call out to Him.  As we go through the trials in our lives we may feel swallowed up by our circumstance, but we must remember the one who has power over our circumstances. We wonder, why am I still going through this? Why am I still in the fish? But like Jonah, we often need time to contemplate the lessons God is teaching us. Though things couldn’t seem worse, Jonah exercises hope in verse 4: “…yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.” Faith dares to approach God, even knowing that we’re sinful people undeserving of mercy, yet Faith drives us to look again. No matter your circumstances there is always hope, we can always come and get alone with God.  Are you willing to dare to hope as Jonah did are you willing to look again no matter how impossible it seems.

Jonah ends his prayer in verse 9 with these words, “For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.” The theme of the entire Bible, Salvation is a gift. A gift that is possible only because God makes it possible God chooses to reach out to people who aren’t reaching back, He accepts and entitles the undeserving. God’s love is not based on our actions but upon His, it’s not because of what we have done, but because of what He has done.

Do you feel stuck in the fish right now? What are you going to do with your time in the fish?  Are you going to focus on God or on the fish (your circumstances)? Are you going to learn what God is teaching you or just spent your time trying to get out?  Jonah uses his time to pray from his heart, it’s an honest prayer where he gets real with God. Often ours are not, we overlook the real issues that we need to be discussing, or we ignore some sin we need to confess, or we ask for things to which He has already clearly said no. Are you ready to get alone with God and get real?