Excerpts from Jonah 2: Then Jonah prayed to his God from the belly of the fish. He prayed: “In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God. He answered me. From the belly of the grave I cried, ‘Help!’ You heard my cry… When my life was slipping away, I remembered God, and my prayer got through to you, made it all the way to your Holy Temple… But I’m worshiping you, God, calling out in thanksgiving! And I’ll do what I promised I’d do! Salvation belongs to God!” Then God spoke to the fish, and it vomited up Jonah on the seashore.
Salvation belongs to God, not ourselves. Our own efforts can only take us so far. We can only carry the burdens for so long before we break. Jonah fled when God asked him to obey. He wanted to be “the master of his fate*” when in the end, in the belly of a fish, he realized the impossibility of rescue without someone to be his rescuer.
I’m learning, like Jonah in the depths of the sea, what it means to relinquish control of the outcomes in my life and rest moment-by-moment in the journey; learning to trust, to untangle my fingers from around the mess. Let it fall to the depths where Christ, The Rescuer, has already won.
When we hand over control, God doesn’t just salvage and jerry-rig our life to become a somewhat functioning machine. He makes us brand new so when people see us, the mess is replaced by a new creation, reflecting a whole, image-bearer of God.
Don’t for one minute think The Prowling One will let us go without a fight. We are valuable to God, so Satan delights in our destruction. But every time my white-knuckled grasp loosens, I’m choosing to trust in God’s nature, in his goodness and in what he has done. I’m choosing to act on the faithfulness I’ve seen in my history with him and the truth in his Word.
His death and resurrection didn’t just save us from separation from him at our death, we are saved now. My question is, are we living as people who have been saved? Do we acknowledge our Rescuer from the belly of the fish?
*Invictus by William Ernest Henley