Summary: God prepared a worm that took Jonah out of his comfort zone. God will do whatever it takes to stir us out of our lethargy and to begin to serve him faithfully.
God Prepared a Worm
Sunday, September 7, 2014
By Rev. James May
Jonah 3:1 – 4:11
Nearly all of us have heard about Jonah and God’s call upon his life. Most of the time when we hear of Jonah, the first thing that pops into our mind is the story of how he was swallowed by a whale, spent three days on the belly of the whale, and then was thrown up on the beach at the closest point to Nineveh where he was supposed to go in the first place.
In my mind I’ve always pictured this huge whale, kind of like a blue whale, but no one really knows. It’s like the old saying, “there’s always a bigger fish”. Since God had prepared this fish just to teach Jonah a lesson, it could have been any kind of fish. It’s just that whales don’t normally swallow people and any other type of predator fish in the ocean would have bitten him first. This had to be a special fish.
Whatever kind of fish it was, he was just minding his own business, swimming along at the right place and at the right time to fulfill his destiny. When he opened his mouth to gather food from the sea, one of the things he swallowed was a prophet who was on the run from God.
God knows how to get your attention if you refuse to do what he has called you to do. In Jonah’s case, he was swallowed by a fish and spent three days in the belly of the whale.
Have you ever been in the position of Jonah? NO, I’m sure you haven’t been swallowed by a whale. But have you ever failed to be where God wanted you to be, and instead chose to go where you wanted, and suddenly things begin to happen that are overwhelming? Maybe it’s a sickness, or an accident, or something else, but the thought comes to you that perhaps this wouldn’t have happened if I had been where I knew I should be. That might be your “whale” that God is using to turn you around!
You see, we all have a call on our lives and a job to do for the Lord. The question is, are we in our place and doing what God has called us to do? If not then I beware, there just might be a “whale” close by. God loves us too much to allow us to continue to run without trying to bring us back to his will for our lives. And God has been known to use some pretty drastic measures to turn his people around when we are headed in the wrong direction.
For Jonah it was a whale. For Balaam it was a talking donkey. For Jacob it was an all-night wrestling match and a hip thrown out of joint. For King Nebuchadnezzar it was going insane and living like a wild beast. What’s it going to be for us?
If things sometimes start happening that you can’t explain and troubles come that are truly more than you can handle, could it be that God is trying to get your attention? It’s not always just for that purpose, but you be assured that everything that happens to you does have some purpose in it. Look for the purpose it whatever comes. Is the purpose to turn you around? Is the purpose to get you to pray more and draw closer to the Lord? Is the purpose for you to grow in faith? Is the purpose for you to learn to depend more on the Lord? Is the purpose to help you learn the will of God for you life? What’s the purpose of your troubles?
There’s a lesson there somewhere if you’ll seek it out. Learn the lesson. If not, you might be in the “belly of your whale” a long time. Jonah took three days to finally come to repentance for his rebellion against God’s will for his life. If it took him that long to finally give in, living in the belly of a fish, how long will it take you and I to repent and turn back to God.
I can’t think of anything much worse than being inside a fish. That would be a pretty hopeless condition, but I’ve been in a few places that were pretty rough and the world seemed to be closing in on me, and there didn’t seem to be much hope of it going away. That’s when I learned to call upon the Lord and seek to know his will to overcome the things that had me surrounded.
Just like Jonah, when I finally learned the lesson and turned to God and began to walk in his will, then the problems either went away or God gave me the strength to overcome them and live victoriously in spite of the problems.