I never really thought about how the story of Jonah being stuck in the belly of the fish could relate to me. I mean, when in my life will I find myself stuck inside the stomach of a big slimy fish?
Jonah ended up in the fish because he had messed up by disobeying God. I have not always obeyed God, but I am so grateful that He found other ways than having a big fish swallow me to teach me a lesson.
But what if a fish did swallow me? What would I do? Would I be able to do what Jonah did?
He prayed out to God and asked for forgiveness for his disobedience. And God heard his prayer and allowed the fish to deliver Jonah safely to the shore. It was that moment of being washed up on the shoreline that Jonah received his second chance. A chance to go back and do what he was suppose to do. A chance to get things right.
Have you ever stared at a situation that seemed totally inescapable? Like you had been swallowed whole, with no way of prying open the mouth of fear and finding calm and peace in your sea of agony and defeat?
In a recent bout with some serious physical ailments, I felt like Jonah. I felt alone. I felt isolated. I felt like I had been swallowed up with no way of returning to shore. For the first time, I could relate to Jonah and the story of the fish that swallowed him. Surely, God would hear my prayer and give me a second chance too. If He did it for Jonah, wouldn’t He do it for me too?
I love how the story of Jonah begins, “the Word of the Lord came to Jonah…”
But even after Jonah messed up, God hit “rewind” and started at the very beginning again. You can read further in scripture that it says, “The Word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time…” And it was the SAME Word! God was giving Jonah a fresh start. A do-over. A second chance.
As I reflect on the story of Jonah, I realize that the application to my life is not the desolation I feel when I feel tossed about in my storm of life, as if I were water logged in a dark, eerie place with no plan of return.
The application for me and for you is, that no matter what our circumstances, God’s Word remains the same. The storms change. The size of the fish may change. Our attitude about the bellies we find ourselves in even changes. But the promises and the faithfulness of God NEVER changes.
Two weeks ago, I lay in a hospital bed with some serious respiratory issues. As I closed my eyes, fighting for each breath, I wondered how I could still do the things that I knew God still wanted me to do. Had I let Him down by not accomplishing everything that I had been given to do in my lifetime?
And then the Word of God came to me again…
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you, He will NEVER leave you nor forsake you.” –Deuteronomy 3:16Finally, I realized the impact that Jonah and the big fish had on my life. Jonah wasn’t the only one who needed a “do over”, a fresh start, a chance to go back and do things again. I too, was given that do-over that only my Lord could give me. Another opportunity to seize the plans that He has for me. A second chance at this thing we call “life”.
Imagine, if God would do that for Jonah and for me, What God could do for you?
I don’t know what you need a second chance at, but if you will let Him, God will give you that way of escape that you have been seeking. If you will allow His hand to pry open the mouth of your fish, His word will come to you again!
Be strong and courageous. You deserve a second chance.