Lent 2016: Day 21

God’s Rescue

by

Today's Text: Jonah 1:11-17, Matthew 12:38-41

Text: Jonah 1:11-17, Matthew 12:38-41

This is part of a 7-day series on Jonah in the Lent 2016 reading plan. 

Every summer of my childhood, our family minivan would drive to the Florida Panhandle, where my grandfather could be found reeling in his excitement about our annual deep sea fishing trip. Papa was a seasoned fisherman who always came home with a net full of snapper and stories, but they never included seasickness. I, on the other hand, could become nauseated at the mere mention of our packed pimiento cheese sandwiches or the squid bait blood splatters. You heard me.

I’d spend most of my time on a half-bench in the fetal position, dreaming of still land and real bathrooms. So when I read Jonah’s story and about a storm hurled by God that was only getting worse and worse, I begin to reach for my saltines.

The boat’s floorboards must’ve groaned in protest with each violent rock and sway of the water. The helm would’ve been rendered useless, the compass indifferent, “as the ship threatened to break up” (Jonah 1:4). As the ocean continued to rise, the sailors’ knowledge and skill would’ve run dry in the face of the tempest. And whether or not the men were made physically ill by the storm’s churning, each was squirming in the waters of his own sin (Jonah 1:5).

“What should we do to you to calm this sea that’s against us?” they asked Jonah (Jonah 1:11).

I remember asking the first mate of the fishing boat a similar question. Surely there was a pill, lotion, elixir, balm, trick, cure—something, anything to soothe the sickness. His answer couldn’t have been more frustrating. “Look to the horizon,” he said. “Don’t look anywhere else until it’s over.”

Jonah’s response to the crew’s question was just as confusing.

“Pick me up and throw me into the sea so it may quiet down for you, for I know that I’m to blame for this violent storm that is against you” (Jonah 1:12).

Imagine the mariners’ confusion. Certainly there had to be a better way, right? One that didn’t involve anyone getting hurt? So they began rowing, but the sea refused to let them go. Even the most well-prepared ship struggles to cross an unruly ocean.

How many ways do I try to life-jacket my own soul, but end up drowning it instead?

The sailors realized they couldn’t correct the sin that had started the storm; they had to throw it overboard. The same goes for us and our sin—except it would take more than throwing it overboard. Our sin would have to be crucified.

The men tossed Jonah into the sea, and they were saved from the water’s rage.
Another group of men nailed Christ to a cross, and we are saved from sin’s wrath.

For three days, Jonah was inside a fish. Death did not claim him.
For three days, Jesus was inside a tomb. Death did not defeat him.
And by His victory, we are swallowed by grace and forever fixed to eternity. We don’t belong to death, either.

When I row away from my rough edges, I’m also running from my rescue. We can stop running. We can rest in the One who came to quiet the storm (Mark 4:39). Even as the sickness of sin rumbles and stirs around us, may we glue our eyes to the horizon to see our coming Rescuer. Amen.

“And they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’”
-Mark 4:38-41

SRT-Lent-Instagram21s

 

  • And by His victory we are swallowed by grace and forever fixed to eternity!

  • “We can rest in the one who came to quiet the storm.” Amen amen amen!!! Needed that deeply

  • Kasey Summers

    “glue our eyes to the horizon to see our coming Rescuer.” Trying to remind myself of this every moment- to keep my eyes on Jesus.

  • Beautifully written

  • Rachel Viergutz

    I am encouraged by the Sailors who, had Jonah listened to God’s call to Nineveh immediately, would not have had this particular experience of meeting and fearing the one True God. Jonah was used by God to bring salvation to others, even when he was running away from that exact call. I find such hope in that when looking back at the times I tried to run and God called me back to his purpose!! He truly works out ALL things for good and his ways are always higher than mine. ❤️

    • Tiari

      I agree, Rachel! Sometimes our storms help lead people to Christ just as much as it does is!

    • Tiari

      *us

      • Olivia

        I was thinking about this, too, and about how beautiful our journey out of sin/out of the fish can be. without our journeys, if God would take our sins and snap his fingers and make us new again, there would be SO MUCH beauty missed. and God would be good to us only when he snaps his fingers. but since he uses our journeys, we know that he is good even when you’re literally inside a fish for three days, or worse,
        DEAD for three days. praise God for his beautiful nature and the way he can makes all things new.

  • Savannah Horan

    This could not have come at a more perfect time! So grateful for this community, these words, and God who loves us oh so much.

  • Sarabeth

    Three days and three nights don’t seem very long in hindsight. However, I recently spent a sleepless night watching the minutes and hours ticking by longing to see the morning. I just wanted that night to end. Three days and three nights is long enough for one to think that is their fate forever. Thankfully God has other plans, but three days and three nights of sitting thinking on one’s sin. Sobering thought.

    • She Reads Truth

      Sarabeth, this IS so sobering! Thank you for the reminder to think on this today. Grateful for you!

      xoxo-Kaitlin

  • Amen!! I love the metaphor of the ocean and God’s love. Even then, the ocean eventually meets land and ends, but thank you Lord, your love does NOT. Even as the storms of sin and struggle toil around us, we look to the horizon, to the cross, to the one who makes all things new. Thank you for not giving up on me Lord. Thank you for pursuing me. Help me soak in the truths of who I am in you.

    • Megan

      Yes thank you Jesus for not giving up on us and for pursuing us every single day!! Amen!!

  • God’s such a multi-tasker! All the while he pursued the boat carrying his wayward, rebellious Jonah he was also in hot-pursuit after the boat crew to rescue their lives also.

  • Chelsea

    Something that stuck out to me was the men in the boat, who at the start were praying to many gods came to fear the one true God through Jonah’s trial. Lately the Lord has been showing me the life changing power of trials and how He can draw many closer to Him even through the consequences of another’s sin. Anything can be used for God’s glory!

  • Amen. Thank you so much for your words…He is our life-perserver.

    • Mary Kyser

      Very thankful to our Lord for His awesome Grace, and Mercy, and Wisdom! Also, this Community of sharing, and support!

  • Churchmouse

    It’s interesting to me that Jonah readily admits that he is to blame for the violent storm and the dire strait the sailors are in. He provides them with the solution for saving themselves, just throw him overboard. Nevertheless, the sailors seek another way until desperation wins out and over goes Jonah! But right before they give him the heave – ho , the oddest thing happens (well, the big fish is odder still), the sailors cry out to Jonah’s God for forgiveness, a God in whom they previously held no belief. Oh my. The storm settles and the sailors offer a sacrifice to the Lord. (hmmm, wonder what they sacrificed? What did they have left on their boat that they hadn’t already jettisoned? Had they nothing else to offer but themselves? Just wondering because they then made vows. Doesn’t scripture make you think?! ).
    Lesson for me from all of this : Yes sometimes I am very much to blame for the pickle I’m in. Yes my sin affects others, sometimes far beyond what I could imagine. Confessing that sin and getting rid of it may result in a drastic change of my circumstance that may be even worse in the short run. BUT GOD has provided my rescue in Jesus. The storm that results from my sin is conquered by faith in Jesus’ completed work on the Cross and His triumph in His Resurrection May I always remember that. Come what may, He is my life – preserver.

    • Pamela

      Very insightful, Churchmouse and you are right, of course, we do sometimes suffer when choosing the right path which leads us back to God. But, as you also say, our sin can affect others, so we must never overlook the longer-term good that (hopefully) can benefit all those concerned, resulting from our short-term suffering when we are brave enough to realign with God’s will.

    • Holly A.

      Thanks for this insight. It really brought it home to me.

    • Yvette

      Amen! I shared similar revelations!

    • Rhonda

      Amen. Thank you for your insightful, well-said comments.

    • Michele

      Love this.

  • Gretchen

    I wonder why Jonah did not throw himself into the sea to save the others but waited to be thrown in. I’m guessing he was scared and not willing to sacrifice himself. Did he struggle against the sailors when they threw him in the ocean? Even while knowing it was because of him they were all in peril? As another parallel to Jesus, Jonas was sacrificed at the hands of others but unlike Jesus did not go willingly. But God uses this situation to display his power to the sailors and grace to Jonah. I am struck by the fact that God continually pursues us even when we walk in disobedience away from His will. What would have happened had Jonah dropped to his knees on that boat and repented of his sin? What would have happened had he given in to God’s purpose for him? Would God have calmed the storm? Yet, he stubbornly chose what seemed to be certain death instead of repentance. Talk about strong-willed! Yet God pursued him, isolated him and heard his cry of repentance. Don’t we all have a similar story? Maybe not as intense but one of God leading us to place where we have no other option but Him and we have to rely on Him alone for a way out of our pit. And God is a good, good Father willing to hear and honor our cries of repentance.

    • Patti

      Gretchen – your is the first comment I read this morning and it was so perfect. Thank you for posting. For 3 years my husband and I have prayed for our Father in heaven to lift us up out of this pit of financial stress. We have 2 in college, 1 on her way. We have a mortgage, household bills and, obviously, have to eat! Yes, we would rely more than we should on our VISA. And our MC. We couldn’t see any other way! But God……. about a year ago God brought us to a place where we could hear his voice loud and clear. And he told us, “I want you to rely on me. And me alone.” And so we put aside the credit cards and we cut our budget as much as we could. We continue to tithe every month. Yep, sometimes I hear Satan say, “Wow – y’all could use that money you’re sending to the church every month. Why don’t you just stop it temporarily. Just until you get on your feet” Oh, how tempting. At first. But as I pray and pray about it, that temptation faded. And so here we are. Totally dependent on God for our livelihood. Thankful that we have a good, good Father who hears us and will honor our cries of repentance.

      • Tracy

        I am so grateful you posted this!!! What true obedience… The kind that produces endurance!! May God bless you both spiritually and financially in this storm!!!
        obobedience

    • Pamela

      Very well put, Gretchen! I think Jonah had to go through a process. First of all, on the boat he wasn’t prepared to repent (ie. turn away from his disobedience and turn to God to realign his thoughts and actions with God’s will). And yes, you’re right – how strong-willed to rather die than repent. Regarding the sailors, it reminds me of the scripture verse in Matthew 18: 15-18. Could it be that they wanted to save Jonah, but because of Jonah’s refusal to repent, they had no further role to play, other than distancing themselves from him to allow God to do the necessary work? I’m sure, Gretchen, that God would have calmed the storm, had Jonah repented on the boat. But at that point, Jonah hadn’t suffered enough discomfort to bring about his repentance.
      As a Christian, I find this very challenging: Firstly, we should repent of our sins (best case scenario is to do it early on and realign our will with that of God’s); secondly, if we see the sin of another (having removed the planks from our own eyes), and they stubbornly refuse to repent, then we should leave them to God to deal with. Then, it is our job to ensure that we have no part in and no association with their sin. How many of us are strong enough to follow that through? Yet, ignoring another’s unwillingness to repent often causes more damage in the long run, often harming many people’s lives.
      In Jonah’s case, the ship may have ended up destroyed and the lives of the sailors lost. In the Ninevites’ case, God chose Jonah to convince them to repent, so that they could be saved.

      • Megan

        Thank you for sharing your heart Pamela. God will reward your faithfulness when he sees fit. Keep enduring and holding on to your faith don’t give up! Saying a prayer for your family right now.

      • Megan

        Whoops sorry I was referring to Patti’s comment. The reply feature can be a bit confusing at times.

    • angela

      i wonder if God kept jonah from simply throwing himself overboard because the sailors needed to hear His Name. they had yet to cry out to Yahweh. if Jonah had thrown himself overboard, he wouldn’t have confessed his sin to the others nor would he have shared with them that his God is the One Who created the sea. they would have been left in the proverbial dark.

    • jessiechatchat

      I was wondering the same thing–why not just throw yourself over? But I hadn’t seen the parallel to Christ. So beautiful. Plus, some days (like today) I’m so disgusted with myself that Ii wish someone would roll me over into a dunk tank of grace.

  • “How many ways do I life-jacket my own soul but end up drowning instead?” Powerful words. How many times do I try to fix my sin rather than acknowledge it before God? Or, even worse, when I acknowledge my sin, ask for forgiveness, and God tells me what to do about this sin and instead of doing what He says I decide to try something that doesn’t seem so drastic. I am so thankful that God is God and that He does what it takes to bring us back to Him. I love this prayer from “The Valley of Vision”. It says “I bless thee that great sin draws out great grace, that, although the least sin deserves infinite punishment because done against an infinite God, yet there is mercy for me, for where guilt is most terrible, there thy mercy in Christ is most free and deep.”
    Lord, I pray for complete obedience today. I get so caught up in going my own way that I can’t see that what You have is infinitely better than anything my small, feeble mind could even imagine.
    Sisters, have a blessed day. May God bring you peace in the midst of any storms that come your way.

  • I love to see the harmony of the old and New Testament…the blending of God’s plan through all the ages…never changing but always reaching out and searching for the lost! Yes, the people of Nineveh as well as the crew on the ship as well as all the peoples of the world today…lost in the angry waves of life…needing a Savior….oh Dear Lord…help us all share Your love and throw out the “lifeline”…the Gospel…to the ones who are drowning in sin…!!! Amen!!

  • “How many ways do I try to life-jacket my own soul, but end up drowning it instead?” Love these words!

  • candacejo

    I experienced a most perilous ferry ride a year or so ago from Tallinn, Estonia to Helsinki, Finland. Oh. My. Word. I have been on many ferries but this day there was a storm and the waves were unbelievable. We made it, of course, but on the way back? Ten times worse! You couldn’t stand up on the boat, many people were “getting sick” and I just had to go to the little girls room. The Sweetheart accompanies me, in all my terror, and we were literally thrown from side to side of the hallway and grabbing anything we could to hold on.

    We had a young visitor with us that we were wanting to show Helsinki to and I was afraid that she was afraid. Not so. She slept through most of the ordeal. And I asked the Lord, over and over, to calm the storm. “You can do it, Lord! For Your glory! As you calmed it for the disciples please calm this storm for us.”

    But He didn’t. What He DID do was CALM ME. HE was the peace in the MIDDLE of the storm! The rock that we could hold on to and I was not afraid. Once I realized what was taking place I was then overwhelmed that He was trying to teach me a lesson. Whether my life was in danger or not, I was safe. Whether the boat capsized or not, I was in HIS care. Even if I perished, I still had a promise and that is a peace that simply cannot be explained.

    I wasn’t necessarily surrounded by sin, and I hope I didn’t get too off-base here today, but I had to keep my eyes on that horizon, on the Rescuer and He didn’t disappoint. “We can rest in the One who came to quiet the storm.” In me. ♥

    • Becky

      There’s an older song that I can’t remember most of at this point, but your story made me remember this line: “sometimes He calms the storm, but other times He calms His child.” Your story is such a great concrete illustration of that truth: that yes, sometimes God does reach in and bring shalom to the chaos surrounding us…but sometimes He chooses to let the chaos outside continue and brings that deep peace to our hearts instead. Thanks for sharing!

      • Ivey

        I love this idea ladies – yes – we need to KNOW that he has absolute power to calm any storm (real or of the world) but sometimes He chooses to calm His children, us, amidst the storm. What a great illustration of His power and peace -

      • Rebekah

        The song is from the 90s by Scott Krippayne “Sometimes He Calms The Storm” GREAT words to go along with this mornings reading.

      • Megan

        Amen!!!

    • ~ B ~

      I remember that ferry ride. I’m sure it is something that sticks with you forever. I love that God did the calming in the manner He saw fit. “I still had a promise….” So good to remember this in those moments our world is rocking .

    • Anja

      Well said.

  • Carly B

    It’s amazing how God can work even our disobedience into his plan and bring good from it. If Jonah had not been on that boat, the sailors would not have seen God’s amazing power in stopping the storm which caused them to put their faith in him.

    • Shannon

      True! I’m glad God brings His will IN SPITE of us sometimes! What struck me today is that God literally had to save Jonah from himself. He had to send a huge fish to swallow him up so that He could have his full attention for three full days. It is interesting that it was then that Jonah decided to pray. After all was said and done, God repeats Himself at that point, telling Him again to do the thing Jonah was told once already. I want to be a listener of God. Then I want to obey Him.

    • Rochelle

      Yes! As many times as I’ve read and heard the story of Jonah, I think this was the first time that (sailor’s conversion) really stood out to me!

  • The Lord never promised a life of comfort; honestly, it seems the opposite is true. He requires us to trust in Him, and do what He tells us despite the circumstances, discomfort, or tumult it may seem to cause. I’ve never gotten to know myself more than when He put me in a place where I was a bit scared, confused, and kind of lost, because all I had was Him.

    We became so much closer in my struggles, and I came to realize how once things go well, I sometimes forget Him; another sin I can lay down at the cross, and another opportunity to grow! I feel so blessed to see these words of encouragement today. Praying for all of the blessed sisters of the SRT community. ♡

Further Reading...