10 Dec After the Tempest..
“So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea..”
So here I was, out of my precious boat.
With nothing to my name – no company, no career, no income, nothing!
I had packed up my office, bid my colleagues a morose farewell, and now had nowhere to go.
Each day began with me alone in my house, wondering what to do with the twelve long hours before my family came home.
I couldn’t bear sitting there doing nothing, having been a busy “exec” before my business closed.
So several times I reflected on the word the Lord had given, concerning His purpose for my life:
The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
But, my goodness! What exactly was this plenteous harvest and where, oh where, was it to be found?
And how did one go about being a Labourer?
I had my suspicions, yes; it most probably meant toiling somewhere in a “vineyard”, but for the life of me I didn’t know where on earth to find one!
Then one day I remembered something.
Immediately after I had given my life to Christ, I recalled, He had spoken to me about Christian television.
Aha! I thought.
That’s where my vineyard is!
So, off I went, ready to haul in the promised harvest.
And for one full year I dashed about, shooting this television show and that, with nary a thought for the Lord’s real purpose for my ministry.
I spent money my family could scarcely afford and created programs that brought in almost zilch, as far as plenteous harvests were concerned.
And, needless to say, at the end of that fruitless year, I heard that still small voice again.
My daughter, you have spent one year doing things your way.
Now stay at home for one full month and seek Me.
Stay home? A month? And seek Him?
I thought laboring in the vineyard meant working long and hard, somewhere tough and perilous, with other good Christians?
But after toiling for a full year in my self-determined vineyard, with minuscule results, I was now quite ready to give in.
I informed my family that I would not be going anywhere for one month, and of course tried to reassure them that I still had all my marbles intact.
Much to my relief they appeared convinced; or at least willing to play along for the moment.
And thus, dear reader, my time of running was truly up.
I was now not only out of the boat, but officially deep inside the belly of the fish.
The story of Jonah takes a decidedly interesting turn, once he is inside the fish.
The man who tried to flee to Tarshish, 4,500km away from Nineveh where the Lord had sent him, is now trapped in a tiny space, with nothing but his thoughts to keep him occupied.
For three days and three nights, I would imagine, Jonah thinks. And thinks hard.
He reflects on his somewhat tight situation, and the mission that the Lord has placed before him.
And at the end of those three days, Jonah is convinced.
He cries out to the Lord from inside the belly.
I will sacrifice to You, with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed.
Salvation, he proclaims, is of the Lord.
He has accepted his mission and is now ready to face those most terrifying Ninevites.
And at this point, the Bible records, the Lord speaks to the fish, and it promptly vomits our man Jonah right onto dry land.
Well, for me, life in the belly eventually took five good years.
Five years in which the Lord taught me, counseled me and trained me through His precious Word.
After accepting the Lord’s challenge to seek Him for one month, I had immediately searched my house and found a beautiful, white King James Bible.
It had been given to me at my wedding 12 years earlier, by one of my mother’s closest friends.
So after dusting it off, I began reading and searching the scriptures, beginning at the very first verse, of the very first chapter, of the Book of Genesis.
And as time went by, the Lord continued to guide and instruct me, as a great Teacher would coach an eager and hungry student.
He taught me the power of His Word, the importance of prayer and the amazing wonders of worship.
He ministered to me and healed me of personal issues that I didn’t even know existed.
He faithfully introduced me to the sweet fellowship of other Believers, in form of a weekly prayer group, to which I still belong.
And from time to time, He entrusted me with assignments that would teach me something or grow my new faith in one way or another.
I grew to love Him and revere Him, as He patiently and steadfastly revealed Himself to me.
He became my Heavenly Father, my Rock, my Fortress, my Shield and my Deliverer.
In short, He became my Everything.
Ah, life was sweet, inside that belly!
But then, when the time was right, the Lord gently tapped the fish and guided it ashore, where it promptly spat me out, right onto dry land.
I had to leave the warm belly and proceed straight to my vineyard, stage left.
And today, dear reader, you will find me strolling about in this vineyard, happily pronouncing the precious gospel of Christ – and enjoying every moment of it!
And I would not trade my time inside the belly for anything; no, not even for that precious boat I once so greatly loved.
Part 1: If Jonah is in Your Boat
Assignment No 1: “Fatma”
Go on, say hello to Jonah, in the belly of the fish
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