We talked about Jonah in Bible class Wednesday night. About how every time I heard that story growing up I remember being told that because Jonah was bad a big fish ate him.
Cause: being bad.
Effect: eaten by a fish.
But then when I read the book of Jonah I realized that the fish wasn’t the punishment at all. It was the salvation. Check out Jonah chapter 2, a prayer of thanksgiving to God for rescue. It’s offered from inside the fish.
Jonah was drowning. God sent the fish to save him.
I think the application for this is simple. How many times have you confused the fish with punishment when God actually meant it for your salvation?
When Justin and I had to leave New York we had almost no notice. The move had to be immediate. We had no job prospects, no ideas even, and we were two months pregnant with our first kid. We were drowning.
In the middle of all this, we got a call from Daniel Hope, Justin’s best friend (Henderson’s preacher), about a possible job in Henderson. Of course Justin said he was interested (we needed a job), but truth is, we weren’t. At all.
Henderson is very, very small. It’s not the place I would have chosen to live. It’s not the twentieth place I would have chosen to live. And so, considering a move to the middle of nowhere, away from family, away from New York, just seemed like a last resort.
But we took it because we needed it. And in the moment I felt like I was being swallowed by a fish. And I was. But in a good way.
Henderson has changed my life. It’s challenged me and blessed me in too many ways to count. I like living in a small town (shocker) and I like working with the Henderson church. I’ve found plenty of ways to get my hands dirty in service to God, and I’ve found plenty of people to push me closer to God through their strong words and strong examples.
Henderson was not some sort of punishment. It wasn’t even a bad thing. It’s been a great thing.
I’d never have guessed.
The girls in class talked about “big fish” moments in their lives, times when what seemed terrible ended up a blessing: failing classes, break-ups, loneliness, even deaths. I remembered an insult I fielded once that totally changed me.
Turns out, God can save us in all kinds of unexpected ways, and while we rarely recognize them as blessings when they’re happening, they’re still blessings.
Thank you, God, for big fish.