Swimming with Jonah: Swallowed Up (gulp)?
How are you doing today? WE…ARE…OVER…HALFWAY…THROUGH…JULY! (Yikes). Where is the Summer going? It seems like just yesterday we were walking out of the school doors taking in the freedom of Summer and now we are thinking about school supplies, backpacks, and pre-made lunches. I don’t know about you, but I am praying that the last few days of Summer go by slowly.
Can I ask you a question: Do you like to go swimming? I was about your age when my parents signed me up for swimming lessons. I was not a huge fan: I didn’t want to leave or let go of the side of the pool and I didn’t want to go under the water. Needless to say, those lessons stopped pretty quickly. But then one day, while swimming at my Aunt and Uncle’s, I decided to give the whole swimming thing another try. Determined, I learned how to swim by the end of that Summer. I was like a fish swimming free in the biggest ocean, exploring every inch of every pool that I was jumping into.
In our lesson today, we learn about a biblical character who decided to jump in the sea–to go swimming–to try to escape his problems. But God had other plans for him. Let me remind you have what we talked about last week. God sent a big storm and tossed a ship around so much that those on board were terrified: they prayed to their gods and threw cargo overboard. Then, they found Jonah in the bottom of the ship and asked him, “Who are you and what are you doing here?” Jonah answered, “I am a worshiper of the God of heaven, who made the land and the sea.” Jonah told those on the ship that he was running from God because he didn’t want to go to Nineveh as God had told him to do. When those on the ship learned that Jonah was running from God, they were even more afraid. “What should we do to stop this terrible storm?” they asked. “Throw me overboard into the sea,” Jonah answered, “and the sea will become calm.” They picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea and the storm stopped at once. (“Man overboard!!!”)
Let me say that again: “Throw me overboard into the sea,” Jonah answered, “and the sea will become calm.” They picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea and the storm stopped at once. Last week, Jonah volunteered himself to be thrown overboard so that those on the ship will be saved. And now, Jonah is found swimming in the sea hoping that he will be saved. Did Jonah drown in the sea? No! God sent a great fish to swallow Jonah, and he was inside the fish for three days and three nights. Jonah was saved! I don’t know if I would want to be saved by being swallowed by a large fish, but if that is what God sent to save me, then I guess I would have no choice. I would rather be swallowed than lost at sea.
How about you? Would you be okay with being swallowed by a large fish? Believe it or not, this large fish reminds us that God is looking out for us, that God is willing to save us, and that God is willing to provide for us even when we don’t always obey or do the right thing. God is going to make sure that you are saved. Once Jonah was swallowed up, he spent three days and three nights alone with God. Spending all that time inside the great fish gave Jonah plenty of time to think. He prayed to God from inside the fish. He confessed that he had been wrong to run from God and promised to fulfill his promises to God.
Jonah reminds us that we need to allow God to take control of our life, we need to allow God to save us, and we need to pray to God so that God can forgive us of our sins and wrongdoings. Just like Jonah, we need to be swallowed by the saving grace of God. The next time you go swimming, thank God for saving you!
Let Us Pray: God, we know we can’t hide from You. You know what we do and what we think. Give us the strength and courage to do all the things that You want us to do. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Your Friend, Holy Spirit!
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