Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:17
But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord. Jonah 1:3
How could he be so bold…and so incredibly ridiculous? Jonah fled in the direction opposite to God’s calling. He was clearly rebelling against God. And he knew it.
Have you ever done that? Flee from God? Ignore His voice? Rebellion in our own life may not look as glaringly obvious as it did in Jonah’s. (It never does.) It might not result in such an unusual situation either (the belly of a large fish is certainly unusual), but we rebel and there are consequences.
This has been true in my life, especially in my youth. I have made decisions without fully considering the consequences of ignoring God’s voice. But I cannot say I didn’t hear Him. And because God loves us, He will pursue. Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. Jonah 1:4
Accepting responsibility is the first step toward repentance and restoration. “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” vs. 12 The decisions we make affect not just ourselves, but those around us as well. Like rippling water after a pebble is tossed into a still pond, we have no idea how far-reaching the impact.
The men on the boat with Jonah experienced this ripple effect. Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him. vs. 14-16
Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there! Our disobedience and rebellion grieves the Father, but He is always ready to forgive and guide us onward. God desires a relationship with each of us, so He waits with outstretched arms, and takes us back unconditionally the moment we turn to Him. Father knows we will fail. He allows us to experience the natural result of our failures (consequences) so that we will learn and grow, but He will not abandon us. The wrath our sin deserves was poured out on Christ; we can neither add to nor detract from what He has accomplished.
Therefore, we need not fear. Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. vs. 17
God “provided”! God didn’t want Jonah to die in the raging sea. He wanted a restored relationship with Jonah, and He gave an opportunity for that. Father wanted time alone with him, as He does with each of us!
From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. Jonah 2:1-2
What do we desrve? No one deserves a wonderful life. We have all rebelled against God, but by the grace of God we can live beyond what we deserve!
“…To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit. When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord .’ ” And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. Jonah 2:6-10
God has richly blessed me. He has drawn me in and I have responded without fear. Although there has been heartache and loss in my life, I see God’s hand of protection, provision, and His Presence in my life throughout the years! God is good for having brought me through the storm.
Read more devotionals on Jonah Chapters 1&2 at SheReadsTruth