Do you know the story of Jonah and the whale? I thought I did... I mean, I knew the beautifully illustrated children's Bible version of it. I have read this Bible story to my girls many times and we even have a cd with a cute song about Jonah. I know that God told Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh to teach the people about His grace, but Jonah disobeyed. In an attempt to run from God, Jonah boarded a ship to sail away from his troubles. Of course the Lord knew exactly where Jonah was hiding, and He sent a terrible storm that sent waves crashing onto the ship. Jonah was sleeping below the deck when the captian woke him up and asked him to pray to his god to protect them in the storm. Jonah confessed to the captain and crew that he was running away from God. Then Jonah told the men to throw him into the sea and the storm would stop.
This is where our children's Bible wraps up the story nice and neat. Jonah falls into the water, he is swallowed by a whale, he lives inside the whale's belly for three days and three nights, and then God tells the fish to spit Jonah out onto dry land. Then Jonah obeys God and goes to Ninevah. The end.
Last week, I was reading the story of Jonah in my Bible and I have to admit, I have never heard the whole story! There are some really amazing details of God's love, grace, and mercy that make this story even more incredible!
First of all, the men on the crew of the ship didn't know the Lord. In fact, they were asking Jonah "Who is responsible for this storm? Who is making all this trouble for us?". Jonah got to tell the men about God, and they feared the Lord and they believed. God can use all things, even Jonah's disobedience, to bring Him glory!
Then, when Jonah is swallowed up by the fish, he began to pray. Jonah wasn't trying to find a way to climb up to the whale's spout, or vomiting from the smell of (literally) fish guts... he was praying! He was choosing to praise God, despite his circumstances. "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord."- Jonah 2:8-10 Wow! I was really convicted of the sin of my selfishness while reading Jonah's prayer. How many times have I complained to God when my life has gotten a little stinky? How many times have I made the choice to allow my circumstances dictate my joy? Yikes!
The story continues as Jonah travels to Ninevah, and the people repent of their evil ways. Jonah becomes angry at the Lord for his compassion on these people and then God teaches Jonah another lesson, this time using a plant that provides shade. (You'll have to peek in your Bible to read the ending! wink! That's my challenge for you if you are like me, and you've never read the 'whole' story!)
Below are some pictures of our trip to Washington, DC. The girls didn't come with us, which was the first time we have ever left them over night! We missed them bunches, but we truly enjoyed our time together. We saw lots of the sights and monuments, did lots of walking, ate some yummy food, made some really funny memories, worshipped at a well-known church (Capitol Hill Baptist church), and enjoyed great conversations!
"He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy."- Proverbs 28:13