There's so much to see in the story of Jonah! I'm learning so much by really digging in and mining for gold pieces that I can tuck away in my heart.
In the first two chapters of this small, yet powerful book, I find a story that would make a good blockbuster movie. Feeling called by God, Jonah hits the ground running the other way. My favorite verse of that first chapter is the very last verse.
Verse 17 says this: "But The Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah,..."
Over the last few years, I've learned that often the very best things in the Bible begin with a BUT. It's no coincidence that just when all seems hopeless you'll often find that tiny conjunction. And when you see it, hold on! Because God is about to blow you away!
I mean seriously, as I read this story of Jonah and learn that he was just thrown overboard, I find myself thinking, we'll, that's it! That's where the story ends! And then it comes, "But The Lord," and in this case it's followed by, "provided a great fish to swallow Jonah," and I'm left thinking, what?! A fish? To swallow him? How can this end well? That's where God shows off, right where my doubt begins.
Jonah begins to pray earnestly, when he's in the worst place imaginable (been there done that, minus the fish!) He remembers all that God has done for him and he clings to it. For dear life. In verse 8 is where he got me, it reads, "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs."
Those who cling (like me) to worthless idols (like family, food, exercise, my job) forfeit (give up, walk away, miss out on) the grace that could be theirs. (Jonah 2:8, NIV)
We sing about God's grace all the time. It's AMAZING right? It's a concept that I find myself going back to over and over. Grace given to me from my Creator. Grace in the imperfect and the messy and the hard. It's often the hardest thing for me to give myself and those closest to me. But God gives it FREELY. Unless I cling to worthless idols (like I so often do) and then I FORFEIT that grace. Now I'm not the most competitive person. I don't like to lose but I'm the one who wants everyone to leave happy and feeling like everyone was a winner. I'm not like my dear friend who is the first to tell you that second place is the first loser. :) That being said, if we're competing in say a scavenger hunt in a strange town with a group of college kids, I'm not gonna quit. I'm NOT going to forfeit. I'm gonna give it all I've got. So why, why oh why, would I willingly give up one of the most precious gifts I've ever received, the precious, amazing grace of God?
Dear Lord, Please help to me hear you, and more importantly to LISTEN to you. I want to feel Your grace. Help me to give up those worthless idols, God, so that I can experience all You have for me.