Discipline or Deliverance?
“‘Pick me up and throw me into the sea.’ Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before…Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard…But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah…” Jonah 1:12-13, 17
The year was 1998 and we had tried everything from family counseling to residential treatment centers in an effort to intervene with our 16 year old daughter’s self-destructive spiral. It had been 3 long years of rebellion, police visits to our home, trips to the jail and a string of constant runaway attempts. All she desired was to leave home…to be left alone…to break off from the family. We did our best to keep her at home but our family life became so disruptive and destructive it became an issue of safety for our other two children.
With a heavy heart and a desire for a fraction of normalcy in our home we did not stop her and even encouraged her. We learned the hard way that we couldn't change her heart, and sometimes a person must be given over to their desires. For the following 6 years Kristen lived in the ‘belly of the fish.’ I will never know nor do I care to know what was experienced inside that darkness. I have complete confidence that whatever she experienced was provided by God in an effort towards reconciliation and restoration. At 22 she looked up from the belly of that vile fish and prayed to God for deliverance and rescue. God heard her prayer and saw her sincerity of her heart, fully restoring her life and every relationship within our family.
No matter where you are this morning and what choices you have made God will provide your fish for future preservation. Your circumstances may seem hopeless but they may be the very thing that God uses to rescue you from your previous life. I always thought Jonah’s great fish was punishment from running away from God but it is obvious that it was the lifeline that God threw out for a future rescue. Don’t ever underestimate what miraculous workings God is doing from within the belly of your whale. As Priscilla Shirer outlines in Jonah – Navigating a Life Interrupted the secret to survival is acknowledging your part, accepting God’s discipline, asking for forgiveness and acting on God’s direction.
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