Bedtime Bible story goes like this: Sitting in bed with lights out and Leighton pointing a little flashlight onto the page I’m reading. We are not consistent with bedtime Bible story but it’s funny how many times I have been struck by something new in a story I already know so well.
The men on the boat were safe. But poor Jonah was sinking deeper and deeper and deeper into the sea. God sent a big fish to rescue him. The fish swallowed Jonah with one big gulp.
As I read these words to Leah and Leighton my heart caught on the words swallowed up.
When I was a kid I always thought of Jonah as a sort of Bible bad guy. And I viewed his stay in the belly of the big fish as God’s punishment because he refused to travel to Ninevah and preach God’s message of forgiveness to the people.
This morning as I’m driving, dropping off, running violins back up to school and being all mommish I’m thinking about Jonah. About being swallowed up.
Thinking about how in life sometimes the thing you view as a punishment, the thing you think is going to be the end of you, is actually God’s rescue.
A divine act of grace. A mercy.
When I read about Jonah now I don’t see a bad guy. I see a man who told the men on the boat that the storm threatening their safey was God making his presence known to Jonah. And so they threw Jonah overboard…a seemingly just consequence to running from God.
Except the God who sent the storm….the God who let Jonah sink deeper and deeper and deeper…is the same One who sent the big fish to rescue him. I believe God knew nothing was going to change in Jonah’s life as long as he stayed on the boat.
Jonah’s time inside the belly of the big fish was just what he needed not only to keep from drowning but to keep him from squandering his destiny. Being swallowed up wasn’t a punishment. It was an appointment.
Time spent breaking is an opportunity for holy reconstruction.
At forty-years-old I feel like I know a couple of things. First, I don’t know nearly anything! Secondly, more than once a thing in my life that looked as though it would swallow me up and ruin me was the thing God used to rescue me from my fears and false beliefs. To change me. I know what breaks us can actually rebuild us into people we could never be otherwise. The big fish might just be a rescue and a preparation for things I can’t know or understand about tomorrow.
I know that being swallowed up feels scary but the dark quiet inside the belly of our circumstance is often the best place to experience the nearness and presence of Jesus.
We come out messy but more alive than ever.