A Bible story reflection from Colin Reeves, Editor, Abbey Link (the magazine for Pershore Abbey)
Everyone loves the story of Jonah because of the whale – and they probably take it with a large pinch of sea salt!
Yet, to be honest, that whale is not a whale and it has very little part in this exciting Bible short story (it’s only 48 verses long, found towards the end of the Old Testament). Although, being a Jewish prophetical book, it is full of hidden significance and parallel meanings, it is easy to enjoy at face value. Reading it, we may make a remarkable discovery … Jonah is me.
Most of us have a sense of right and wrong, a prompting of the conscience to do the proper thing. It nags away when the wrong path in life is taken, we feel guilty and things don’t seem to go right. Jonah tries to avoid his prompting by deliberately setting off in the opposite direction – trouble is not far behind! And, inevitably, his trouble rubs off on everyone around him. They in turn force him to admit the problem and face up to it. ‘I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you!’
Does this situation ring any bells? Overboard he goes and along comes the whale (in truth, ‘the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah’). It doesn’t matter what the creature was, because the nub of the story is Jonah’s situation and his reaction. He is both literally and spiritually at rock bottom. He has run away from God, he has upset those around him, he is in deep, deep trouble, everything seems hopeless and he has only one option left…
‘In my distress I called to the Lord… The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me…to the roots of the mountains I sank down… But you brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God… when my life was ebbing away, I remembered you Lord… Salvation comes from the Lord.’
It is an experience shared by many throughout centuries and is vividly demonstrated in the New Testament by those who came to Christ. It is an experience echoed in ordinary lives today – running from God, getting into deep water, regret and repentance, then finally turning back. Yet the patient Lord Jesus, standing outside our closed hearts, says: ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.’
Anyone can be in a hurry, anyone can be anxious. Today, improve your quality of life by putting your confidence in your Shepherd and accepting in your heart that God is enough.
Source : Association for Church Editors