Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Stitch in Time Saves Nine” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/03/08)
TITLE: Out of the Belly of Hell
By Ebony Broussard
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Drowning would not have been his first choice, but at least it would be quick, right? The burning in his chest increased with each passing second. He clawed the water, searching for the surface in what seemed to be a continual tunnel of water. Suddenly, his direction changed. The rush of water stopped abruptly and he felt his body being pulled down downward. Lungs crying for air, he felt himself gasp and bring in a slight bit of air. How was that possible?
His hands and body were being smacked with what he assumed were fish but who could tell in complete darkness! He reached the surface and drew in air. Thick and fishy. It appeared he had landed in a pool in the middle of the sea. He was floating now. He felt fish bumping against his body and limbs. Many fish and of varying sizes! Where had he landed? A cave? In the middle of the sea? He sought to reason with himself. Where was he?
Perhaps this was how the first day ended for him. I imagine by the second day he probably had an idea of where he had landed. Life in the belly of a great fish probably looked worse than the mission God had assigned Jonah. But, just in case, God gave him a few days to consider his situation.
To the men on the boat with Jonah, he probably looked like a man sacrificing himself for the safety of the other on board, but Jonah knew the “real” story. Jonah thought he knew what serving the Lord meant but he did not know serving means receiving every assignment, not just the assignments where we find agreement with God. God gave Jonah several opportunities to reconcile his attempt to “out-run” and “out-hide” God. Even after his deliverance from the “belly of hell,” Jonah still complained about the Lord’s handling of the situation in Nineveh.
In a second attempt to show Jonah his own heart, God used the gourd to illustrate His compassion and His sovereignty. We are a lot like Jonah. We can smile on the compassion demonstrated toward the poor or oppressed, but we have difficulty smiling on the same compassion being demonstrated to sinners who commit what we would consider extreme sins.
As believers, it is not our place to question through acts of disobedience and rebellion the character of God but it is through sacrificial obedience (i.e. lining your will up with God’s will even though you may not agree with it) that we learn about the character of God and get to exam ourselves. Jonah multiplied his suffering by not addressing his issue with God’s compassion on the people of Nineveh from the beginning. Not only did he spend time, energy, and money running away, but he still ended up having to sit in the belly of a fish then sit in the intense heat of the sun for God to show Jonah his heart was not right.
Is God giving you a chance to do something great for him and you find yourself running away because you don’t agree with His choice for your life? Consider all of the situations and circumstances that have arisen in your life because you are running. Learn the lesson of Jonah before getting to your “belly” and “gourd” experience. Talk with the Lord about your fears and doubts, then know He is faithful to bring you out! Sometimes our obedience needs to act as a sacrifice rather than sacrifice our destiny in exchange for the belly of hell.
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