Sunday, October 9, 2011

Life In the Fish

Maybe it's just a Protestant thing, but I've met a lot of people who talk about having a "life verse" -- a brief, memorable portion of scripture that holds particular meaning for them. As it turns out, one of my favorite Bible stories is that of Jonah, and one of the verses which has significantly influenced me is Jonah 1:17:

"But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah,
and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights."

It's not one of the standard life-verse-type quotes, I suppose. But I love it, and here's why...

First, Jonah's predicament was messy and smelly and weird.  His rescue included being eaten alive by a great fish, for pity's sake -- clearly nonstandard. I've never been inside a fish, but I've been in messy and unusual situations, wondering how it would turn out. I can relate a little to Jonah here.

Second, Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights. That's a long time. A long, dark, mucky time. It was an in-between time, one of waiting and uncertainty and unpleasantness. He didn't know what would happen, or when. He waited, wondered, prayed, pondered, complained, hoped, promised, and waited some more. Again, other than the fish part, Jonah's story is familiar.

And in all this, I keep going back to where it says "the Lord provided." Jonah was in pretty deep, and he'd even gotten himself into that situation. But God didn't leave him there. This being an unusual circumstance, God brought some extra creativity to it. In the midst of all the messy unknowns, and even in Jonah's rebellion, God was still at work. And like He was with Jonah, I trust that God is persistently engaged in my world today, too.

I'll stop short of claiming Jonah 1:17 (or any other) as "my life verse," but I do love the story and the very clear picture it paints of in-between times. It's a keeper.

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