Refreshment in Refuge
by Gina Burgess
Have you come down with an illness? Has silence descended into your marriage? Have you lost your job? Have you lost your church position? Have you been rejected by your peers at work or by your boss? Have your finances taken a slide downhill? Have you had to quit your job in order to take care of elderly parents, or a sick child?
There once was a fish that God had appointed to do a great service for Himself and to Jonah. Sometimes God puts us in the dark place so that we can realize what God has known all along. Sometimes the belly of the fish is the only place where we can come to terms with our need to do a 180 turn back into His perfect will. All trials and tribulations can be categorized as a Dark Place, but not all Dark Places are specifically for the exact same godly purpose as Jonah’s Dark Place was. Not all Dark Places are designed to make the inhabitant repentant or less willful. However, each Dark Place has a godly purpose for those who love God and are called according to His good purposes.
The lots had been cast. The white side came up. Everyone knew Jonah was guilty of some grievous sin. Jonah even admitted it. So he told them to toss him overboard and their ship would be saved. It was so.
Something crazy happened from Jonah’s rebellion. There were some men who worshipped other gods who cried out for God’s mercy, who recognized God’s power, and who begged for Him not to hold tossing Jonah overboard against them. This is an incredible example how God turns something evil into something good for someone. Those men met God and it brought them to their knees. Why is it that God’s power and His presence don’t do that to us? We don’t seem to be as desperate for God as we used to be. And sometimes, we don’t “hop to” obedience as we once did which is why God prepares this Holding Zone or Dark Place for us to inhabit for a time.
God Almighty is always closer than we think. Even when it seems that He couldn’t possibly be in the Dark Place, all it takes is simple repentance and suddenly the walls came tumbling down, the curtains were ripped in two from top to bottom and God, in all His glory, heard Jonah’s cry.
The walls are not of His building. He didn’t fashion the curtains. Those are things of our own construction. Jonah did an excellent job of wall building. He chose a course of action that he knew was wrong. Someone once called him The Wrong Way Prophet. It is an accurate description.
While in his Dark Place, Jonah took several steps toward an attitude adjustment. The first thing he did was pray. This is something repeated countless times in the Bible. The first thing to do is pray. Jonah cried out from his deep distress to the LORD. From the deepest, darkest part of the deep blue sea, Jonah cried out and God heard him. Jonah recognized that it was God who put him in that Holding Zone. The waters closed over his head, he sank to the feet of the mountains, seaweed clung to his head. His soul fainted within him. And then he remembered to pray.
Humans are stubborn and rarely do we learn from someone else’s mistakes. There is usually something that we dig in our heels about, and to our horror, we come face to face with adversity of some kind. Even though these things make us stronger and insure a closer relationship with God, we have a tendency to cry out, “Why me?” Jonah didn’t do that.
He was in the belly of that fish for three days. One wonders what he thought about during those three days. Could the very short chapter two be all that he thought? How long did it take for him to realize he must bend his neck and do what God had told him to do? Short answer is three days. There was a process though. He prayed in his distress. He cried out. He had a deep understanding of the danger he was in and he realized it was God who had saved him from drowning. He knew his prayer lifted up as high as God’s Holy Temple, even from the depths of the sea. And he finally bent his will to God’s will and declared he would do what he had vowed to do—obey God.
Once he had committed to obedience, God spoke to the fish, the fish was sick of Jonah, and Jonah ended up on the beach.
What did God really want Jonah to do? Share Grace with the lost. Has God changed His agenda since the days of Jonah? No, although we act like it sometimes. We Christians need to release our own personal agendas and jot down God’s agenda in our daily To Do list. It just might keep us out of the belly of a fish.
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She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.
If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection
Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and eBookChristian.com
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