From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and He answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.”
Jonah has been sent to the lost, but shall not preach to them until like them he becomes. Out of desperation for the divine comes inspiration of call and clarity of message. Out of our search for Him comes His word for us. Seek Me, He says. And having done so we finally become people who can live and move among the searching.
God already had a message for Jonah to give.
Jonah just wasn’t ready to say it.
It is not that we do not understand what the Lord would have us speak, but that we are hesitant to jettison from our souls that which keeps us from saying it.
It is not that we do not have hope to proclaim but that we do not yet have the character with which to proclaim it. This character is not made from the maturation of our strength but the revelation of our weakness. We do not become capable enough to minister but shattered enough to serve.
In my distress, Jonah says, I encounter the One whom the people of Nineveh need. Now their God is my God. Those far off have been, as the scriptures say, made near.
We turn the lights on to get ready.
Sometimes God turns the lights out.
Because how the kingdom moves forward has little to do with the earth which it has invaded. The victory does not, will not, shall not look like the defeat. What heaven will do on the earth will always demonstrate the inability of earth to reach heaven. The Tower of Babel is a spiritual curse of confusion and chaos on human order and mutual understanding initiated by our rejection of our position beneath God. Pride is what destroyed our ability to relate and understand each other. Now what has been confused by our agenda will not become ordered by our plans. We will not now reach heaven by our efforts. The curse was broken because heaven efforted to reach earth. Out of the storm and sea comes the prophet and praise. Up from the ocean arises something more powerful than the pounding of its waves, the changing of a man.
And so we plead for the storms to end, but rarely pray for the message to begin. Prior to our greatest proclamation is often anchored our deepest pains, finally having something to say having lost our ability to do. The word of faith we are proclaiming rather than the actions of self-righteousness in which we are trusting. The power of our message born from misery is that it confirms the character of God and the absence of our competency.
The kingdom of God is not based upon our skills to sail the ship upon the storm but our willingness to seek life beneath the waves.
It is the promise of God to be found. And it is the privilege of people to seek.
So our pride which tell us we can say no to God shall be interrupted and subdued by the experiences to which we would have never said yes. Having experienced the painful results of our resistance we become grateful for the opportunity afforded by surrender. We finally realize that the amount of pain we have experienced telling heaven no is incomparable to the power revealed when we say yes.
So in our distress we cried to the Lord.
And, remarkably, He answered.
If you have not yet paid the fare of resisting God, save your money, escape the pain and follow Him. If you are on the journey resting comfortably, repent before the storm. If you find yourself the cause of many problems for others and yourself, hide not the truth. And finally if the temporary and egotistical elation of saying no to the Creator has been swallowed by the horrifying realization of saying yes to death, find in the Author of Life the only One who does not merely give the message but save the messenger.
It’s not hard to find your purpose.
Just find Him in your pain.
- Pastor James