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Fish and Storms

Shane Willard

Page 9 of 10
Seventy years in exile, all kinds of things. Good parenting is equating rebellion with pain. My dad had a belt and - don't feel bad for me, I needed it. And trust me, all of us wish yours would have done it more, probably. Okay, so he would do this. He hardly ever had to hit me, hardly ever. Every now and then he gave - well in general he never gave me a spanking I didn't deserve, and it was never over the top. It was appropriate discipline, but what he did is, he attached pain with bad behaviour. Once sufficient pain was attached to bad behaviour, there were moments where I'd start to cross the line, and all he had to do was take his belt off and set it down, and before he ever had to discipline me, I changed right then! Can I get an amen - how many of you know what I'm talking about right? The belt itself, not the act of discipline but the belt itself, brought about the change in behaviour.

See sometimes we need storms and fish to act as belts in our life. Essentially it acts as those moments that go: umm, ahh, do we need to pull this out? We have to start though with the supposition that God is kind, and He is loving, and His judgement and discipline is never forever. It's always meant to bring about correction for greater fruitfulness, just like a dad. It's called classical condition. God's discipline sometimes goes far beyond what is necessary to teach the lesson, so that we'll never go there again.

Verse 8: Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to You. What I vowed, I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord. See Jonah is pointing out something: in the middle of unexpected crisis we cling to God, not to the things that we were pursuing other than God. We don't cling - in the middle of a fish, in the middle of a crisis, in the middle of a storm, we don't cling to the plan. We don't cling to the money, we don't cling to the position, we don't cling to Jaffa, we don't cling to Tarshish. We cling to God. What we pursued instead of God is not worth what we lose.

In our distress, we do not cry out for what we were pursuing - the person, the standard of living, the deal we were working, no - we cry out for God. Sometimes the storm and the fish is what we exactly need. It's not that we need saving from the storm and the fish; it's that the storm and the fish is what's saving us. The storm and the fish is actually saving us. Let me close this tonight with a couple of application questions:

1) Is there any place in my life that I need God to rescue me from? Is there any place in my life that I look at, and I say: God, I really feel like I need You to rescue me from this?

2) Is there any way that it is actually rescuing me? Is there any sense of it, that it's actually rescuing you? Maybe it's forcing you to deal with the real you? Maybe it's forcing you to name your darkness? Maybe it's bringing things to the surface, maybe it's bringing emotions up that haven't been brought up for years and years and years, and you're not going to go forward in wholeness without bringing it up. Maybe this thing you need rescuing from, is the very thing God is using to rescue you. What do you need rescuing from? Is there any sense that it's rescuing you?

3) is there anything in my life that needs to be value-shifted? Don't feel bad - Jonah was one of the heroes of the faith, but everything in his life needed to be value-shifted. Jonah was a racist bigot. He was not a very nice person. He actually wanted God to destroy a group of people, four days after he was rescued from the belly of a fish - not very good. You can't celebrate your deliverance from a fish, by hoping other people get swallowed! Come on, that doesn't work - and the whole reason he didn't want God to be nice, was because the Assyrians weren't Jews. He's a racist. What in your life, is the fish or the storm trying to value-shift? In other words, don't go through the fish and storm without getting out of it what you need to get out of it. What is God saving you from? What needs to be value-shifted? Where does your perspective need to change?