The guy is at least six feet under and still alive! Jonah was like a kid having to travel with parent God. What a ride…in the back seat…three days…trapped inside of possibly a big mammal! We get the idea from children’s books that Jonah is sitting silly with bright green leaves accessorizing his cute little head. The fish in the story looks as if he is having a playful time with his good buddy Jonah. But let’s allow God to take our hearts and minds through the real deal of raw material, water coasting travel: We are at the bottom of the ocean, the bottom-line, the bottom of our plans; we are what seems to be the bottom of it all…here, now. There is definitely something fishy about a situation such as this. Will God have anything to do with it? Absolutely. He was the one that “provided” (made available, furnished support for, prepared) a big fish to swallow Jonah. Way below freedom level, Jonah says a prayer inside the fish. Instead of being buried under the sea and prematurely forfeiting his destination, he was scooped up as he “sank down”. I’m sure even the men who threw Jonah overboard to stop the storm that began due to his direct opposition of God’s leading, thought him to be dead. Jonah was not going to die here though; he was merely in time out. The fish was God’s choice idea of transportation for Jonah to reach land once again. A solid, secure place was what God had in mind. He wanted to land Jonah and He wants to do the same for us, giving us a broad view and a brighter future, which happens only through obedience.
Jonah’s blessing from God was in an extremely rare form. Clearly though, providing this famous fish we like to think of as a whale was the kind of generosity Jonah appreciated. Still deeper into this divine intervention, from the word provision we have “proviso” pro-before. 1. a clause in a document or statute making some condition or stipulation. 2. a stock of food….Then from the word stipulate, we get the understanding that it is to arrange definitely to specify as an essential (had to happen) condition or agreement. Stock is to have on hand, to keep a supply of…raw material. From there we can go to the term: stock-in which means to inventory stock on hand, to make an appraisal, to set a price for; estimate the value of! Thankfully we are valued and are given valuable things to do. Again this is my view of God’s well thought out plans for us as His children whether we are a stubborn prophet like Jonah or a new compliant christian. With “belly” meaning procreation, soft place, womb- it is no wonder that God did not keep Jonah there. He had more for him to do! Like Jonah we are simply passengers being steered in the right direction. God does not intend to keep us stuck (where we’re swallowed but can’t be digested!); ironically however, freedom entails us giving up control.
So here we are at miracle status: Where God attends our being alone and watches as we realize that having our own way actually causes us to embrace His greater Way. Many times this is the part where no human being joins us; our huge secret as to where we are with God sometimes is invisible to friends, family, and the world. Because of the direction we took miles back, we are faced with a distinct, decision, dedication moment. Here we’re allowed to refocus and gain mileage. From inside the “provision” Jonah prayed (Jonah Ch. 2 vs.5) “In my distress the engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head…” The only chance at up in the middle of darkness while losing air, and drifting downward in an out of control spin is a prayer. One prayer while fear and death was at his fingertips; the fingertips that held Jonah’s head comfortably on a boat he had no business being on. These same fingertips met the ocean to stop the storm that grew out of control, and then groped about frantically as they tumbled around…underneath everything ordinary and familiar. Suddenly, to their surprise, in an instant of being pulled from what may have been a sandy grave, felt the feeling of rescue at their touch. Now Jonah’s fingertips mesh together for yet another significant, life changing experience; sweaty, shaky, weak, and certainly not odor free. Magical? Majestic would be the word more similar to Christ himself. Remember the sweat of blood, the cross, the darkness, and death he faced? Now recollect the rising of it all. All of His fleshly wounds, and desperation came to a miraculous halt and are still to this very day, for the greatest cause. The purpose of coming out of the blue and despair is far beyond us, no doubt. The moment our fingertips touch to form prayer is the moment for all odds to be beaten. As Jonah’s heart shifted in total surrender toward God, his transportation by sea ended. The Bible says: “And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited (discharged with force!) Jonah onto dry land.”
As Jonah sat sifting sand through those fingertips of his, they now begin to resemble an hourglass. He decides it is time to do what God asked him to do many days ago. For it is in His stern, generous, and enormous hands that we find our way. (Jonah Ch. 3:5,10) To Ninevah!