"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the Grace that could be theirs." -Jonah 2:8
This whole chapter always hits me..
Here is Jonah, fugitive from the Lord, praying to the SAME EXACT Lord that he was running from! All that the Lord wanted him to do was to USE him to clean the corrupt, But now it seems that Jonah is the man in need of cleaning!
What was he accomplishing by running?
...Well let's re-phrase this,
What do we accomplish by running...?
Jonah clearly knew that God was speaking to him! The Bible says, "The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai:
"Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me." -Jonah 1:1-2.
Jonah 2:2 picks up when Jonah finally realizes that his planned failed, AFTER he was found by the Lord. What else did he realize?
Jonah realized that you can never run from the one inside of you...
So why is one of the shortest books even in the Bible? What is the Lord trying to get across?
The Lord is simply showing a cause and effect!
Because Jonah ran... Jonah became trapped inside HIS OWN prison in the form of a fish
Jonah 2:2 is an account of what went on in that moment....
He said: "In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, 'I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.' The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit. "When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. "Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God's love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, 'Salvation comes from the Lord.'" And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land." -Jonah 2:2-10
Through this text the Lord is stressing the importance of focusing on him... And the truth is?
We ALL lose focus! And before we know it...? We are trapped in our own prisons that WE allow to be created simply because we lose sight on the Lord... We attempt to recreate HIS plans!
So what's going on in your life? Are you constantly finding yourself trapped into a cell, a personal prison? Do you feel like you are running so fast in a world were you must run to keep pace? Is stress destroying you? Let's try to discover what we can learn about controlling stress.
What is the first thing we can learn?
1.) Admit and realize that you are creating/allowing this prison
Jonah 2:2 shows this unfolding! The chapter shows Jonah admitting responsibility for the situation he had created. Instead of making excuses, Jonah prayed for grace, mercy, and help ALL while being humbled and humiliated.
The Lord understands that you are struggling to stay above water and he understands that sometimes we get impatient and rush things...
BUT JUST LIKE ANY LOVING FATHER, the Lord will save you from drowning! Stress does NOTHING good for you. Scientifically, stress is proven to do nothing but slowly kill... Seriously! It is proven that those with constant stress WILL have a higher chance of life threatening illnesses. The Lord realizes this!
We MUST rest! And Psalms 23 captures the importance of it...
"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
The text states that the Lord MAKES one lie down in green pastures... Not asks, but MAKES!
This act of force reveals the importance of rest.
So whats the second way of escaping stress?
2.) Realize that you can't focus on the Lord if you are focused on the world.
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." -Romans 12:2
Where your time is... Your heart is. If a job is taking the majority of your time... Then it is also taking your heart... If a relationship is taking the majority of your time... Then it is taking your mind also.
Romans contains a key word, renew.
The word renew simply means to make new again. In order for this to happen however, sometimes tough changes must be made.
Martin Luther said it best, "Whatever your heart clings to and relies on is your God...."
It does not get any simpler than that... Cling to the world and you are indirectly creating a god... Rely on a person and you are creating a god...
So what can you do?what's the last step? Well, we already talked about it.
3.) Cut whatever is cutting you from the Lord
Times get tough, times get hectic, but times shall NEVER define you! Make sure that you have time to slow down or else you will crash. In order to fight stress, anxiety, and heartbreak head on, we must regain focus! If we do not lay down, then the Lord will make us! Do not build prisons by RUSHING the Lord, there is hope and the day will come when you will receive all that was promised! Focus on the Lord.. for ONLY in the Lord is there rest.
When we begin to remove what's blinding us, we will be able to fight stress head on... We will begin to regain focus!
So have you lost focus on what matters...? ...It's never to late to turn around The Lord is beautiful if you slow down enough to focus on his beauty...
Let's begin to give him and him alone ALL that we are...
----- "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other." -Matthew 6:24
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things WILL be given to you as well." -Matthew 6:33