He could feel the hard grips. He could feel that his feet were no longer on the floor. He could feel their hands as the men hefted him up high and hurled him into air. He could feel himself free-falling. He could feel the icy grip of the water catching him.
Jonah sank below for just a few seconds. It all felt so calm and peaceful under the water. It was a whole other world. Maybe in this world, he could hide.
He opened his eyes and looked towards the light above him, then he started kicking furiously. His head broke the surface of the water, and he could see the ship, the current had already carried him a good twenty yards from the ship. Instead of the storm that had been raging around him as he fell into the ocean, everything was peaceful. The sun was high and shining bright, and there wasn't a cloud against the beautiful blue sky. A strong breeze blew against the ships sails, taking the crew as far away from Jonah as fast as possible. God had had mercy on the ship's crew. Just like Jonah knew he would.
Ironic, perhaps that that was the reason he was in this mess in the first place. He started kicking, swimming after the ship.
Mid-stroke, he stopped. What was he going to do? Even if he could catch up with the ship, they wouldn't let him back on-board only to have the same thing happen. Then Jonah started laughing like a man possessed.
He allowed himself to sink below the surface again, his intention was only for a moment. He loved being under water. Behind him, little currents started brushing at him. Using his right arm, he turned himself to look.The water stung his eyes.
He opened his mouth, and started choking on the seawater. A huge beast of a fish was swimming straight towards him.
And it's mouth was open wide.
He started kicking again frantically trying to put some distance between him and the monster. He didn't know what he was going to do. The beast was gaining on him. Jonah broke the surface again, and started screaming, but only for a second. He had swum right into another current, and it dragged him back down to meet his fate.
Jonah could only wait. He knew what was going to happen. That thing was going to eat him alive. In there, he would die. Maybe this was God's punishment for running. Maybe it was simply his time to go.
Regardless. This was the end.
Jonah felt as the behemoth fish sucked him in, and felt as his body slid past its teeth and insides, sliding in deeper and deeper.
Then his world went dark.
Jonah woke up gasping. Oh, that smell! Before he could stop himself, he vomited. He was grateful he was on his side, or he probably would have choked on his own vomit.
He tried to move his hand, and realized that he was enclosed on all sides. On top of that and the rancid smell, he was partially in some kind of water.
Everything started to come back in flashes. The word. The ship. The storm. The fish.
Is that where I am? In the fish's belly?
For a split second, Jonah was grateful. He was alive after all! But the reality of his situation started to set into his soul. He was trapped in a fish. It would seem only a matter of time before the end.
Except, how much time had passed already? There was one glaring truth that was still unclear to Jonah.
Why was he still alive?
Based on Jonah 1:15, 17
While I was working on my weekly kids blog, God showed me more in Jonah to share.
I love Jonah 1:17, "And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." More specifically, I love that God appointed a fish to swallow up Jonah.
Why didn't God just punish Jonah, and let him die? Since when has God operated like that? He is a God of second chances. More then that. He gives out third, fourth, skip a few, ninety-nine, and a hundred chances. God appointed that fish to save Jonah so that Jonah could have a second chance. A chance to repent and do the right thing.
What is your appointed fish?
On first glance, being swallowed up by a giant fish, might seem like a bad thing. Death, erosion by stomach acids, drowning, and punishment from God come to mind when I think of this. However, God didn't intend for the fish to be those things. God intended for that fish to be Jonah's second chance, his path to repentance and forgiveness and life, cause let's face it, if Jonah hadn't repented, he would have been fish food for sure.
So, what is your appointed fish? Is there something in your life that seems like more trouble, that could actually be a blessing in disguise? It could be an appointed fish from God, giving you space away from the world, a place with just you and God. You can't run from Him there. Instead, you run to Him and forgiveness.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9
Jonah tried to take off on God, ignoring His will completely because he didn't agree with it. He found a ship to take him in the opposite direction so he could run and hide. He endangered innocent people. It took him three days to let go of his stubbornness and repent!
Yet God gave him the opportunity to repent. God gave him the time in the fish's belly.
Are you in your own fish belly? Is God trying to get your attention, and call you back to Him? God has appointed that fish to hold you and give you the chance to repent. Will you let that fish belly go to waste? Or will you stop running, and get out of that smelly gut already?
V. Joy Palmer