Last week, we left Jonah sitting inside a fish where he had plenty of time to think about his past and pray about his future. He’s had time to think about the direction his life’s been headed and what he wants to do from this point on. He’s decided to stop running from the Lord and start doing what the Lord wants him to do.
He’s ready to attempt great things for God and accomplish great things for God, but he’s got one small problem. He’s still sitting inside the fish. Before Jonah can get from where he is, from where he’s ended up because of the choices and decisions he’s made; before he can get from where he is to where the Lord wants him to be, he has to get out of that fish.
Remember from last week, that fish represents an uncomfortable and unpleasant time, a transitional time in our lives that we can’t change, we can’t control and we can’t stop in any way. The Lord put Jonah in that fish and the Lord is the only one who decides when and how Jonah’s going to get out.
Jonah 2:10 “And the Lord commanded the fish, and it VOMITED Jonah onto dry land.”
How disgusting do you think that must have been? Jonah was vomited onto dry land. Just think about it, the sound, the smell, the feel with Jonah in the middle of it.
Jonah wasn’t paying much attention when he went into that fish. He was too busy sinking to the bottom of the sea with seaweed wrapped around his head. When he woke up inside that fish, he must have thought he was dead. He wasn’t really sure where he was or how he got there.
But this is different. Getting out of that fish is going to be much worse than getting in because now Jonah is fully aware of what’s going on. He’s conscious of every disgusting and nauseating detail. It’s an incredibly miserable experience for anyone who’s ever gone through it.
Being inside the fish is that awkward and unpleasant time in our lives that the Lord uses to turn us completely toward Him. It’s dark and confining in there. We feel helpless and ashamed, but we’ve also become hopeful and encouraged and eager to start living for the Lord. It seems like it’s never going to end. But the good news is that it does come to an end.
The bad news is that in order for it to end, the fish has to vomit. Being vomited onto dry land, getting from where we’ve put ourselves to where the Lord wants us to be, is always a very traumatic and unpleasant time of intense upheaval in our lives. It’s an experience the Lord never wants us to forget and an experience we never want to repeat. The only encouraging thing about it is that the vomiting experience doesn’t last very long.
In addition to being the worst experience of our lives, it’s also the shortest. It begins and ends without warning. After going months, maybe even years without anything happening, without any changes or improvements to our circumstances, without any indication the Lord is hearing our prayers, when the Lord seems absent and silent, after the Lord’s work has been completed in us, after our minds have been renewed, our wills have conformed and our attitudes have been adjusted, things begin to move at lightning speed.
It’s a time when absolutely everything in our lives is rapidly coming apart. Life is moving way too fast and it’s completely out of control. There’s nothing to stand on; nothing to hold on to. I don’t know where God is. I don’t even care where God is anymore. I feel like everything’s spinning around and around. Then, all of a sudden – – – it’s over. Everything miraculously and mercifully settles down. The ground is solid. The wind is calm. The air is fresh. The sun is shining. The sky is blue. The birds are singing. I’m out. I’m free and everything is smelling great. Yesterday seems like a bad dream. . ‘
It’s all a part of God’s perfect and wonderful plan for our lives. It seems the Lord is taking forever to answer our prayers, but once the Lord moves, He moves quickly so we’d better be ready to move with Him.
Jonah 3: 1-7a “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.’ Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh…. On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed, ‘Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.’ The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust.”
Jonah 3:10 “When God saw what they did and saw how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction He had threatened.”
The Lord told Jonah to go to Nineveh. Jonah did what the Lord told him to do. The Ninevites heard God’s word and repented. The will of God has been done on earth as it is in heaven. The Lord is pleased. There’s no reason the story can’t end right here, but it doesn’t. Lord willing, we’ll pick it up from here next Tuesday. I hope you’ll stay in God’s Word with Pastor Buj.