But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord.
“You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. I sank down to the very roots of the mountains; I was imprisoned in the earth. But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.”
Jonah 1:3, 2:1, 6 a/b, & 9, NLT.
My fault or my faith? A question & at times a statement, I’ve drilled into myself. Especially the past few weeks.
I am teaching & re-visiting Jonah in the time period of the OT study we are pursuing. Picking apart the 1st 2 chapters brought a revelation to the state of my relationship with God. To such a degree, I actually found myself lying prostrate in my bedroom floor a few mornings ago.
Recently I’ve been dancing with my faith & the Spirit. Feeling as if faith is an emotion that exists alongside my current mood(s). Forgetting that the Spirit lives in me & serves a purpose. The Spirit can be spoken to & communed with; cried out to as the Psalmist David did & rejoiced with in gratitude. In my selfishness I allow these lapses of knowing to invade my holy spaces.
Many days I can find myself sitting in a pit. I have overcome much in my life & one of those things I wrestle with is a chemical imbalance of my mind. When I was in my late 20’s I tried medications that would level out those inconsistencies, but I found the side effects were far more damaging than the reason I was in battle.
Making a decision that wouldn’t work for some, I went off all medications & 20+ years later I am still free of them. However the wars of the mind & faith that I’ve fought & still fight rage; a constant pressing into Christ to reel me back from the slimy pit of self-talk & lies. It’s hard for anyone to war this way, but for me it takes a little extra preparation & self-care.
Every hole finds itself a different location. I can be walking joyfully along the narrow path, take my eyes off Jesus, & fall into the pit of depression. Weeks later I turn down the valley of destruction into sinking sand & I’ve been swallowed into the trench of doubt & self-pity. The past few weeks I dropped into the well of fault.
My eyes of faith had been clouded by the grayness of blame; blame toward myself, & blame toward others. My thoughts were not obedient to Christ because they’d been bent back to my flesh. I didn’t view anything the way I’ve been trained by God to focus. Faith IS the evident of things we cannot see, but I was under the waters of a muddy lake with visibility no farther than my nose.
Cracking open the Word & preparing notes from those 1st chapters of Jonah, we find a man who has such a distaste for the Gentiles of Ninevah that he’d rather run 2,000 miles from the call of the LORD in anger & fear, instead of remembering what the God of the universe had done in his life & the mission that was designed specifically for him.
Jonah felt repentance & mercy were for his own people- the chosen. His emotions found fault in people who needed to hear the message of God; where his faith should’ve engulfed him. Instead he found himself drowning in deep waters, swallowed up for days & he needed a merciful God to release him.
In his entanglement & desperation Jonah turned his heart & eyes back to who he was in faith & who God is in love. The LORD spared Jonah because He had a call & anointing over him; He needed Jonah to be the specific mouthpiece he was born to be. Jonah ran, but God is faster. He was already there in the present to meet the one who fled.
I am confessing, I too am a Jonah.
For every moment I allow myself to take fault or create fault over circumstances around me, faith is extinguished. Every second I feel I am too old or too inexperienced to live out my call, someone deserving misses the message of the LORD. In those pits where I fall: anger, loathing, weeping, lack- I also find my faith again & my heart turning back to whose I am.
He tells me my faith is never contingent on my feelings. His presence remains until I push it away & replace it with my own control. God reminded me this week that when I find myself clawing, I have to check my sin level. Where I have allowed sin(s) back into the secret places, where I’ve allowed something unholy into my temple. The only way to be washed clean is to call upon the Spirit for a fresh outpouring & renewal.
Like Jonah, God will also allow us to be tossed into deep waters & swallowed, reminding us of His grace & mercy. In our repentance He restores our hope; our faith.
Maybe you’re like me or like Jonah. You’re 1st nature is to fall into faulting before you fall into faithfulness. You carry the weight of everyone & everything around you on your back, when Jesus says, “Pull up your cross DAILY… die to yourself… my yoke is easy, my burden light.”
I wish I had a number to provide for you. Just so you would know how many times I’ve been saved by the LORD. If He were only a God of 2nd chances, I wouldn’t be sitting here typing this message.
God is a merciful rescuer, millions of times over, in my life. Let Him reach down today & rip off the chains; crush the jaws of death & wake your soul back to life. To renew your faith not in parts, but in whole. A contrite & humble heart, not in halves.
Sing songs of thanksgiving when waves pound hardest, because the Spirit in you won’t allow you to praise God with a lie. God’s covenant is irrevocable, but receiving His blessings depend on our obedience to its terms. Our lives of “me” have to be traded in faith for “He.”
INSIGHT & INSPIRATION:
2 Corinthians 10:3-5, NIV, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Psalm 43:5, ESV, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”
Matthew 11:29-30, NIV, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Do you find yourself in deep waters, needing your soul restored? Are you like me, thankful that God isn’t just one of 2nd chances, but a LORD who saves us every day? Joy comes in the morning, but also through the mourning. Find time today to ask God for restoration of faith, if yours has been replaced. He is good & He will provide streams in the desert!