I’ve been doing a study in the book of Jonah. Jonah’s prayer to God in Chapter 2 really resonated with me. Let me share some of that chapter with you.
“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 the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the deep into the very heart of the sea, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, I have been banished from your sight, yet I will look again toward your holy temple. The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me, seaweed was wrapped around my head.'”
Okay, I’m going to pause here. I am picturing what Jonah must have looked like, and then, I think I can find some time in my past that I looked just like him! My belly of the fish was my whole house in filth and chaos. I felt like my husband, kids, step kids, church duties, work, and weeds were all choking the life out of me – like the seaweed Jonah was trying to wrench free from. Then, I picture Jonah’s resolution – his surrender to the situation. He might have thrown up his hands and said, ‘”Okay God, I give up!”
This next part of chapter two is unfortunately how I have responded to God many a time. Jonah said, “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.” Have you been guilty of waiting until life looks hopeless and then you finally remember – Oh yes, I’ll cry out to God!”?
Thank God He is compassionate and very, very patient. He is not looking to ban us from His existence – He is looking to draw us into His presence and His plan.
As Jonah sat in the muck and mire of his life, the light bulb came on and he recalled how His God had provided and protected. Verse 9 is where Jonah says, “with a song of thanksgiving, I will sacrifice to You. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.”
Jonah finally got it. God is God. He had a plan for Jonah and purpose. It only required Jonah walking in step with God and being obedient. This is a wonderful example of what our God does through our seeking, listening, following and obeying Him. Jonah went into Nineveh – the Hebrews archenemy – and only spoke five words. God used those five words and turned an entire city to repentance. This city was so large that it took three days just to walk from one side to the other. There was an estimation of about 120,000 people in Nineveh. And, as the prayer of Jonah said, salvation did come from the Lord.
Your blended family’s blending may look desperate and hopeless. Today, you might completely relate to how Jonah was feeling in the belly of that whale; your marriage is rocky due to the past haunting you, and the present holding back; your step kids may be resistant to any kindness you show them; your kids may be resentful that a new regime has taken over. So many barriers, and yet, if you will quit trying to be everything for everyone and follow God in obedience, you will be able to repeat Jonah’s words, “with a song of thanksgiving, I will sacrifice to You.”
Your sacrifices may look like pride, selfishness, anger, resentfulness, and envy. Lay those things down because “salvation comes from the Lord!”
If God can turn a city of 120,000 back to Him with only five words, imagine what He can do with your family!