October 10, 2013
Spirit & Mind – Riding a Fish to Work
“Now the LORD provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh.” (Jonah 1:17; 2:1, 10; 3:3 / NIV)
I was stuck in rush-hour traffic. I was irritated and impatient even though I knew full well the traffic was outside my control. While burning up minutes of my life at a standstill on what was usually an interstate highway, I began thinking of alternate routes to work – even different transportation methods. Crazily enough, the story of Jonah came to mind. His work commute took an uncontrollable twist on that fateful day when he decided to disobey God.
We all know the story. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, but Jonah refused and hoped onboard a ship sailing in the opposite direction. Subsequently, God sent a storm so fierce the sailors feared for their lives. Upon discovering Jonah as the reason for the storm, they tossed him overboard. At that precise moment, God arranged His alternate transportation to bring Jonah to where He needed him.
God has a specific purpose for everyone (Jeremiah 29:11). Yet, when He whispers His will to our hearts, instead of embracing it, we sometimes disbelieve, get discouraged, and even disobey. This is when God, in His loving compassion and discipline, providentially brings us to the place where He needs us. When we run from Him, He uses “fish” of a different nature to alter our course and return us to Himself.
Sometimes, He uses the fish of Disappointment – this comes along when the path we’ve chosen doesn’t turn out as expected. We have such high expectations doing our own thing, but when it doesn’t materialize, we’re disillusioned with the result.
Other times He uses the fish of Dissatisfaction – this swims into our world when we’ve gone our own way and achieved our personal dreams and aspirations. Yet it doesn’t bring the internal fulfillment we seek.
Then there is the fish of Loneliness – this fish swarms us even when we’re surrounded by many people. When we are not where we are supposed to be, not doing what we are supposed to be doing, no one can fill the absence of God’s assuring presence in our lives.
Sadly, sometimes God is left with no alternative than the fish of Tragedy – this comes along with drastic consequences as a result of our poor choices. Unfortunately, when we run from God, most often we run headlong into trouble.
Instead of riding the Fish Express, chart a new course. Listen to God’s leading and willingly fulfill your part in His miraculous plan.
As a “missionary kid” who grew up in a Christian home and church, Nate Stevens has enjoyed a 30-year banking career in a variety of leadership roles. He also writes online devotionals for his home church (Calvary Church in Charlotte, NC) and articles for several other publications. Information about his book, Matched 4 Marriage – Meant 4 Life is available at www.natestevens.net. God is opening doors for speaking engagements at conferences, seminars, and Bible study groups for singles, young adults, young marrieds, and youth. Nate currently lives near Charlotte, North Carolina, and is an active dad with his two awesome kids, Melissa and Mitchell.