Saturday, July 09, 2005

In the belly of the whale

Sometimes Christ gives us direction that seems so off course with our perceptions of what is best for our lives; when He does this it is quite often because He is trying to use us to reach someone, but more often it is because He is trying to show us something about ourselves and our relationship with Him, trying to help us grow in Him.

But so often we are comfortable with where we are in life, and want to stay put. I picture us as Veggie Tales portrayed Jonah, plugging our ears and running for Tarshish saying, “I can’t hear you, Lord!” You can see how silly this is, especially because we’re basically leaving God with no option other than to send the storm.

We become overwhelmed by the crashing waves, our friends will often turn and throw us from that ship, and are finally swallowed up by that great whale, when we run from God. Because when we don’t follow Him we are opening ourselves up to attack since we are outside of His will. And when we knowingly run from His will, we are just begging for Him to get us completely alone and desperate for change, just so we can grow in Him.

It is when we are in that whale’s belly and realize we are about to be digested that we have no other options. We can either submit to our Father and ask for forgiveness for our stubborn pride and unwillingness to do His will, or we can rot in the trenches. We can let the whale eat us and spend eternity whishing we had just unplugged our ears and opened our hearts to God’s loving guidance.

For three and a half years I’ve been going my own way, plugging my ears to God’s leading. I did what felt good, what I wanted to do, and ignored Him and His will for me. And needless to say the storms came, and I became whale bait. But I’m thankful for it. Because I fear that if I hadn’t been swallowed up I never would have reached out to God. I never would have turned and chosen to do it His way. Is doing it His way easier? No. But it is better. I know after I get through this my reward will be great.

And though it is overwhelming, though I wish I could turn back or even just lie down and find rest, that’s not His will. I have to hold onto my Father’s finger, as a little child holds on to her daddy, and keep walking. I may stumble, but that’s why He is here holding my hand. He will pick me up when I fall, so long as I continue to go His way.

The valley may be muddy, and dark, and frightening, but walking through all of this is strengthening the muscles that matter, my spiritual muscles. And someday I’ll be on that mountaintop looking back, and I will see all that He has done for me. I will see that I never could have made it out of that valley, out of that whale if not for His loving mercy.

So what shall it be? Nineveh, or the belly of a whale? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather smell like whale vomit and go to my Nineveh than to be consumed. I’d rather just do what He knows is best. And though it may be difficult, though I may at times wish I could plug my ears and run away, I know if I do I’ll just end up right back in that whale, and I’m tired of being swallowed and then vomited back up.

No comments: