Have you ever been swimming in the sea only to have a wave come crashing down over your head? The wave didn’t look too big when you were bobbing around and laughing with friends. It was far away. You lost it somehow and then all of a sudden, it has taken you over. You try and find your way to the surface and when you do, you’re gasping for air and spitting out the yucky salt water. Then the first thing you look for is the shore. Where is some dry land because you just don’t seem to trust the waves anymore…
We have started studying Jonah in church – and y’all it is SO GOOD. I never thought I could really relate with the guy who was swallowed by a whale. But Jonah and I (and maybe you too) are a lot similar than I originally thought. We both have run from God when He asked us to do something that seemed too complicated (Jonah 1). We have both have called out in distress to God when life got scary (Jonah 2).
What has stood out to me the most in the past week, is that Jonah was near death before the great fish swallowed him. He prayed a prayer inside that fish. A prayer worth going to read and study. He was calling out to the Lord and describes his experience after being thrown overboard. He was in the middle of the sea, surrounded by waves, seaweed on his head, and the waters began to take his life (Jonah 2:3-5). It is safe to say that I’ve felt this way before. Like everything was too much for me to handle. That God wasn’t around to see me or to rescue me.
But God. The sweetest words in Scripture.
Jonah says: “Yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God. When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple.” (Jonah 2:6-7, ESV)
Can you sense the thanksgiving in Jonah’s heart? That God rescued him? Him – a disobedient, running away, prophet? How much more does God rescue us? Even when we run the complete opposite direction of where the Lord has called us to – He still seeks us out. He is still the great Rescuer. In order to see the Lord and His love for us – we often have to be brought to an end of ourselves. Life struggles can bring us to the side of a cliff where we can no longer run away from His call on our lives.
And yes, I admit that is scary. But it also forces us to rely on the One who never fails. And once we see His faithfulness – we will go back to that cliff, those deep waters, wherever, again and again and again. We have hope in Christ to fulfill what He has promised. I have done some pretty terrifying, uncomfortable things in the past few years – because God called me to them. Sometimes I ran for a while and other times I dove headfirst in what He asked me to do. But each time, I ended up on my knees in prayer asking the Lord to help me. To guide me. And for His will to be done no matter what it cost me. He takes us into the deep so we can learn trust. It’s a lesson that I think we will most likely be learning for the rest of our lives. But it is sweet to trust in Him.
Helen Keller (I adore her if you didn’t know), once said:
“Darkness cannot shut me in again. I have had a glimpse of the shore, and can now live by the hope of reaching it.”
When the waves of life overtake you and then you come up gasping for air and looking for the shore, look for Christ. He is the shore we can set our hope on. Hope that the darkness will not win in this life.
Stop running from God and go wherever He calls you. Pray big prayers. Trust that His plan is always, ALWAYS good and better than your own.