Children have a way of cutting through to the heart of the issue.
My grandson, Jack knows a thing or two about timeout. It seems to me that these things are abundantly clear to him about timeout:
- It’s not fun
- It’s usually for disobedience
- It’s for a definite period of time, usually until he says he’s sorry
So, it should come as no surprise that the three year old theologian should conclude that Jonah’s stint in the belly of the whale was really time out because Jonah had disobeyed God.
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. —Jonah 1.17
Next to that verse in the margin of my Bible I have written:
Jonah was in “time out” b/c he disobeyed God. —Jackson Goshorn, age 3
Jonah had forced God’s hand and in willful disobedience he had turned the other way and was running from God. Isn’t that what we all do? I know I do. I think it’s significant that the meaning behind the word repentance in the New Testament means, in part, to turn around, to turn from what you’ve been doing, to turn to obedience.
In the midst of Jonah’s prayer while in the fish, we read this seemingly out of place verse: Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. —Jonah 2.8. What does that mean? It is probably a reference to the sailors, who in their distress “cried out to his god.” A god that was nothing more than an idol. A god that could not help them. They were like the idols of which Jeremiah wrote in chapter 10, verse 5: Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good.
Everyday we mingle with people who are clinging to worthless idols and forfeiting the grace that could be theirs. But, what about us, the children of the promise? Children of God. What “idols” do we turn to in our times of distress? I know that turn to worry. I can out worry or fret just about anyone as I turn over scenarios in my head of what might happen if this or that. Instead of turning to Him and experiencing His Grace as He takes care of the situation I become a worry-pot. I am growing in this area as I learn by one example after another of how He takes care of all things.
As I write this I am stuck in Atlanta, waiting for a flight to Pittsburgh tomorrow. Rather than worry about such things as…
- will the flight be canceled? (it’s been canceled once)
- will the hotel shuttle be running?
- will I make it to Pittsburgh in time for my appointments?
I am focusing on this: The Lord God who has brought me this far in this journey will not abandon me now. That does not mean that I’ll make it to Pittsburgh at all; it does mean, that if that occurs, His plan is still in place and, like Jonah, I will arise and go to the “Nineveh” that He has planned for me.