“Peace of Christ guards our heart when we pray with thanksgiving.A thankful heart is a guarded heart.”
In Other Words hosted today by In Love W.I.T.H. Jesus visit her lovely blog for more thoughts on todays quote.
I wish I could say I don’t know how I got here, but I know. In fact you could say I asked for it.
I cannot move my head to the right or left. My arms are pinned to my side. The stench is repulsive. I have vomited repeatedly to the point that there is nothing left to expel, yet each time I sip the air my stomach continues to heave in protest. Yes, I’m in a terrible mess but I asked for it.
I’ve choked and sputtering on salty brine for hours. Many times today I’ve thought I’d die from suffocation but when I think I’ve breathed my last, air sneaks into my lungs again and I am revived if only to be reminded of one more offense.
It seems ironic. I thought death would be an easy out but here I am on the edge of death and my life, I can not take though I tried.
I could have fought to stay above water but I didn’t. I figured this was the simplest plan.
As I spun and swirled in the brink I caught glimpses of the light above, wiggling in the wake. The spot closest to the hope of life shrinking fast as I sunk to the depths of the sea. The smaller that circle of light became the more apparent it was that my choice was fatal. Deeper and deeper I fell. There was no way out and so I relaxed, knowing I’d breathed my last.
Who did this?
My captivity began not here in my living tomb, not as I sunk and the seaweed wrapped around me like shackles and chords. No my captivity began when I said “No, no, no.”
I furthered my fate when I chose to run and was found out. In that moment of guilt I exclaimed, “I would rather die than admit my wrong!”
And yet, even now though my flesh stings as the acid eats away at the pigment in my skin and all the hair has burned off of my scalp, I cannot die. My lungs are heavy and restricted, any moment threatening to give out all together, yet He will not let me die.
Who did this? I suppose I did. I accept my fault, I now see the error of my ways. Can God forgive me?
7 “When my life had almost gone,
I remembered the Lord.
I prayed to you,
and you heard my prayers in your Holy Temple.
8 “People who worship useless idols
give up their loyalty to you.
9 But I will praise and thank you
while I give sacrifices to you,
and I will keep my promises to you.
Salvation comes from the Lord!” 10
Then the Lord spoke to the fish, and the fish threw up Jonah onto the dry land.
Am I crazy to equate Jonah’s experience in the fish to that of a thankful and a guarded heart?
I have to admit, I was stumped on this one thinking, “What is a guarded heart anyway?”
The Lord brought me around full circle to the fact that I don’t understand thankfulness either and I don’t believe Jonah did at first.
Jonah ran from God, he attempted to ignore God’s call on his life. When he got in the boat in the opposite direction from where God had told him to go, the Bible makes it clear that he told the sailors from the start he was running from God. The storm that slammed into their corner of the ocean was violent enough to make seasoned sailors pray. They don’t call it having “mouth like a sailor” for nothing. These men were tough, corrupt and not afraid. But this experience literally put the fear of God in them. Jonah’s heart was so hardened, so un-guarded if you will, that even his conscious was uneffected. He slept as the storm raged.
When the men brought him on deck and drew lots, he was not surprised when his straw revealed that he was the cause. He then admitted that it was his God who would not rest unless they threw him overboard. I surmise that Jonah thought it better to die than repent and change his ways. Once a heart has gone down a certain path to the point of callous it is infinitely difficult to change course. Jonah had been doing things his way and even though he recognized the error of those ways he was not ready or able to change, using his methods. When he told the men to throw him overboard I belive he was saying “I’d rather be dead and face my fate than try in my own power to rectify this situation.” In other words my heart is too hard and I’ve stopped listening to God.
As he was sinking to the bottom of the sea, figuring he had done the right thing by ridding the world of such a hardened heart as his, God sent the fish (god of the Ninevites) to carry him safely (ha ha) to his original destination. Once he expressed his thankfulness to God, while in the belly of the fish and probably still expecting to meet Him momentarily in the clouds, he was miraculously propelled back out of his living tomb to get another chance.
I’ve never put much thought into the last chapters of Jonah but this time it struck me just how deep Jonah’s anger went. The Ninevites repented and acknowledged God’s sovereignty. Having just seen the God of Jonah use their fish god as a vessel for His own profit, they turned from their ways and believed. Jonah, however was not please. In fact he told God, as he sulked under a vine that God provided, if he had known they would repent he would not have given the message. He hated the Ninevites.
God let a worm kill the vine that sheltered Jonah and asked, “Didn’t you enjoy that vine? Wasn’t it nice until I wiped it out?”
Of course Jonah loved the vine that kept him from direct encounter with the scorching desert sun. I’m sure he was especially grateful after his harrowing near death experience in the sea.
God then reprimanded him in verse nine, “Why then do you think you have the right to be angry at what is good in my eyes?”
If I’m not crazy, well even if I am, I think this whole thing stems from a heart that was unguarded and thankfulness that was not fully grasped. Jonah harbored anger in his heart, resentment toward man and it caused him to have the audacity to say no to God and pride that nearly sent him to an early grave.
God displayed his absolute control by orchestrating Jonah’s elaborate redemption from himself into the ocean, from the ocean into the fish, from the fish into repentance and from a repentant “guarded” heart back into God’s will.
So as the song goes, “who did swallow Jonah”? Well, you could say God did, the fish did or even hold that Jonah did it to himself but in the end does it really matter? Unless we repent and stop rebelling against God we will be as living dead with hardened unthankful hearts..
Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.