March 25, 2014

Perfect Peace in the Belly of the Fish | She Shares Truth: Jonah 1 & 2

God defined Nineveh in the book of Jonah as a great city
but despite being great, it also suffers from wickedness.
Probably so wicked that God cannot just simply ignore it anymore.
He clearly loved this city and is concerned about its people that He wanted to redeem them.
The thing about God is that He doesn't choose perfect people to love and
certainly doesn’t choose perfect people to carry out His plans.
He plans and then chooses the person to perform it, regardless if he is perfect or not.

God chose Jonah to carry out His plan and reach out to Nineveh.
Did God think Jonah is THE perfect person to carry out this task?
Maybe. Maybe not.
However, looking at how Jonah reacted when God’s word came to him,
I am not so sure if he is the right one.
I mean, he ran away to the opposite direction as fast as he could when he had the chance to do so.
In my limited human mind, if I was in God’s position, I would have chosen somebody else more willing.
Jonah would be so grateful that I am not God. LOL.
God really is a personal God huh.
When He works in our lives, no matter how willing or unwilling we are,
He just won't give up.
In fact, He would chase us until we realize that it is us that He really wants. 
Just wow.

As for Jonah, He sent a great storm after him so that Jonah will realize that
he is who God wants to do the job.
During all the chaos, Jonah finally began to see that
there is no place in the world where he can hide from God.
Upon realizing this, he started owning up to his mistakes and stopped running away from God.
He did not stop there.
He surrendered everything to God even his life when he asked the sailors to throw him overboard.
And yes, the raging sea grew calm.
It calmed down!
Praise be to God!
That was actually a very powerful event that the people on the ship started worshipping God.
What a story of redemption isn't it?
But, God is not done yet especially with Jonah.
He didn't just teach him a lesson and left him for dead, right?
 God was there to pick up Jonah and God must have thought
“What better ride is there than a huge, big fish?”. 
Uhm no thank you!
If this was a movie, oh I can just imagine the look on Jonah’s face when he realizes that
he is not going to be riding ON it but IN it.
I think I just died.

However, inside the fish, when it seems like everything is over when he surrendered to God,
Jonah started praying to no one else but God.
He knows that he wronged God but still he knows the much bigger truth:
God will listen and will answer to his cry for help.
Jonah was in a very unfortunate moment but he knows the one and only truth,
Salvation comes only from God.
So Jonah continued clinging unto God and with songs of thanksgiving,
he sacrificed himself to God and God alone.
Finally, God commanded the fish to spit Jonah out onto a dry land
where maybe finally he can be on safer ground again.

I realized upon reading the first two chapters of Jonah that
God did not choose Jonah because he is perfect.
God wanted to show to Jonah how great is His mercy and grace and love for His people.
That includes Jonah, the Ninevites and even the people on the ship Jonah was on.
God just loves loving His children. 
He will make Himself known to those who really wants to know Him.

Another thing I realized is that Jonah and I are alike in so many ways.
I was headed on my own little Tarshish until God told me that
“Hannah, that is not where I want you to go.”
Because of some decisions I have made in the past (not necessarily wise decisions),
I have experienced a great storm in my life and have been thrown overboard a lot of times.
Finally when I stopped climbing back to my ship, I rested on the water until it calmed down.
I believe that right now, I am inside the fish’s guts.
Ewhhhh. LOL.
But despite this awful smell, I have made a decision that like Jonah,
I will choose to praise God and cry out to Him for I know that He will answer me.
Despite of the circumstances I am in right now,
I have peace in my heart because I believe that my salvation comes from God alone.
While I’m waiting for that moment when I will finally be vomited on dry ground,
I will keep singing the songs of thanksgiving and
I will keep doing what is right and good and pleasing to God.

I still have a long way to go but I’d rather be in this stinking belly on my way towards realizing what God has in store for me than be on my own ship towards my own Tarshish away from Him.
Peace really is not the absence of troubles.
It is the feeling you have in your heart that despite the chaos,
God is with you and will never leave you.

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