One quiet morning recently I was blessed to have some time to read my Bible and as I often have in the past, asked the Lord where He wanted me to read. I was thinking Mark; He had me open Jonah. Okay, I thought, this is super-familiar but I’ll read it quickly and move on. Rude, right? Well, He can work around my presumption.
And work He did. My eyes landed on one word and my brain lit up from the verse, “the Lord provided a great fish…” (1:7) Did you catch it? He provided. That word evokes goodness and graciousness – two aspects of God’s very character. It makes me think of how He answers prayers. Many years ago I kept a list of all the ways He answered our family’s prayers. It happened so often I was compelled to note them all. And although I shouldn’t marvel at a Father loving His children, sometimes I do. Harder still, is when He answers in another way. And He’s done that in my life, too.
I don’t think Jonah thought, “Whew! I’m so glad this fish came along!” Maybe he did, but he might have seen his situation going from bad to worse. Similar to when I’ve said, Really, God? I’ve been feverishly praying and now this? This is the exact opposite of what I think is best for me! See that presumption again? I know, I know. I’m working on it. The ‘great fish’ in my life has taken many forms and I have scarcely recognized them as such. But I’m starting to gets wisps of hints of inklings that challenges and pain are my fish. They swallow me, to be sure and I lie quietly in my bed thinking, ‘Is this my fish? Is this the Lord providing for me?’ I certainly feel thrown overboard but remember what Jonah said after that: “I sank down; But you brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God.”
Sometimes we think since we’ve read something in the Bible many times before, we know exactly what it says. I mean, Jonah ran, was swallowed by a fish, was spit up, and all in a page and a half. I knew that in preschool. But I realized that more often than I want to admit, my understanding of God is in pre-school too. However, sometimes He brings us to something very familiar and enlightens us. Just because He loves us.