Friday, October 12, 2012

Inside the Belly of a Whale

It's funny.  You can read a story for years and even watch a silly movie about the story and not get hit over the head with a two by four. Sitting in an airport I pull out my husbands preaching Bible given to him by his parents years ago.  My Bible is so thick and heavy that I asked Rich if I could borrow one from him to take with me. His has the softest leather and falls open so easily.  I had no specific place in mind when it opened to the book of Jonah.

I am a visual learner which means that when I read something I picture it in my mind. For some reason this story came alive for me this time.  Not so much all the chaos on the boat but the second after the tumble into the belly of that big fish.  Can you imagine inside that belly?  I think it is time to get graphic on that "cute" story. 

That huge fish was filled with garbage.  Rotting and slimy, and putrid garbage.  Filled with dead creatures in different stages of rot.  Such filth.  Somehow we sanitize all that slime. We want to close our eyes to the filth and the stench.  Yet, it is that filth and that slime and stench that God uses to get our attention.  Like other stories in Scripture it all starts with the storm.

In Jonah's life the storm had everything to do with his self-will. He hated the Ninevites.  He didn't want to be caught dead preaching to "those" people. He didn't want to follow God's lead because he thought he knew better than his Creator!  Sound familiar anyone?

 It reminds me of a time in my life that God was calling Rich and I to move to a tiny town called Rifle in Colorado.  When we pulled in to the town it was mid November on a Wednesday afternoon.  There was nothing green.  The grass was brown, the trees were bare and there was brown everywhere.  It was a very tiny town.  We ended up spending the night in a motel called the Buckskin.  Let me tell you, that place has become legendary in our family.  The "curtains" for the window were just old, faded and tattered sheets hung on the rods.  The carpet was threadbare in places and the bathroom, well I won't even go there. The sheets did not look clean and I wanted to sleep with my shoes on!  When we pulled in a couple of hunters were skinning an elk right in the parking lot.   When we drove around the neighborhoods and looked at for sale signs I couldn't believe the costs of the homes.  That was also the one and only time I got car sick. I remember being so discouraged and said to God, "Please LORD, you are not serious? You don't really want us to come up here in the middle of nowhere do you?  Please LORD, NO!

Then a funny thing happened.  The congregation knew we were coming and so they set up a potluck and singing night.  We got there and found some of the nicest people.  After eating we all started singing. I can remember thinking I was hearing the angels sing from heaven.  The people were so enthusiastic.  Now, we had quizzed the kids before arriving at church that no one was to say we were staying at the Buckskin because one of the men had told us before coming up that it was the town's nicest place to stay. We did not want to offend anyone. 

After the devotional was over and we were standing around during the meet and greet someone in the room said very loudly, "The Buckskin?" Someone had spilled the beans. They could not believe we were staying at the Buckskin.  Apparently the guy who told us that was a funny man and never dreamed we would stay in that dive!  When he said it was the best motel in town he was only kidding.  Little did we know.  Several people offered to put us up that night so we didn't have to stay there but we kindly thanked them and headed back to the motel.  Later we learned we got big points for sticking it out and got the job!

I tell you that story to tell you this; my first reaction to that tiny old Western town was no way. I begged God to not send us there.  Yet, in God's infinite wisdom he changed my heart.  I will never, ever forget the singing and the fellowship with that group. In spite of begging to God to not call us there he softened my heart.  I fell in love with the town after moving there.  I loved serving God's people there.  I loved teaching women's Bible studies and being a mentor Mom for MOPS.  I grew to love the rugged mountains.  God used us in that place because we were willing to say yes, even when everything inside me screamed NO!!!

 So back to our story.  Our lives can get ugly and hard and stinky. Sometimes our lives get that way because we try and run from God.  Sometimes we are just apathetic and forgot God all together.  We become lukewarm.  There are times when God just needs to get our attention.  So, off we go into the waters and we get swallowed by the fish. Please remember that God will use anything to get our attention. 

God will go to any lengths to let us know just how much He loves us too!  Me, I would rather not have to sit in the belly of the whale to allow God to teach me important things.  I would rather do it on dry land :) Can you relate precious one?  Does it take sitting in sludge for God to get your attention?  Do you learn better having to survive in the belly of that stinking whale or do you learn better on dry land?  Only you and your Creator know for sure.

Till next time.
In Christ Alone,
Jill





Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

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