I can barely breathe right now. I went from months of unemployed bliss and little responsibility to being employed as a teacher (so much work!) and getting ready to teach a Bible study for women on Wednesday nights.
I guess somewhere in there people in this house are going to want clean underwear and milk in the fridge door and their feet not to stick to the kitchen floor.
Do you know that “to whelm” means to be entirely engulfed by water, to have a wave come over you that takes you down to the depths.
Jonah describes it.
“You hurled me into the deep,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers swept over me…
The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.”
(Jonah 2:3,5 NIV)
Does anyone else feel panicky at the thought of seaweed being wrapped around your head?
And of being engulfed by water?
At the same time?
Here I stop typing and inhale deeply three times. Maybe four.
Interesting that the Christian experience rests on the word “persevere”, which means to stay under pressure.
Stay under the water. Don’t fight the seaweed.
What I want is for Spanish to go away and to quit the Bible study and to go back to easy. That’s what I want. (Well, not really, but you know that quitting-would-be-easier-than-doing feeling, right?)
But God doesn’t pull Jonah up out of the water. He keeps him right underneath there –just sends a big fish instead.
God might want us to stay right where we are. Let it be hard. Feel the pressure of responsibility bearing down.
Can’t breathe under it all. So we pray. We call out for strength.
Jonah says, “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.” (Jonah 2:2 NIV)
The distress doesn’t go away. There is just the answer in the middle of it.
Being swallowed up by something large and unexpected. Being swallowed into a place where there’s air but not freedom from the pressure all around.
And right there from the fish Jonah sings of grace and thanksgiving and salvation.
“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 forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
Salvation comes from the Lord.” (Jonah 2:7-9 NIV)
I want to see God’s saving hand and sing while life is stressful.