If we were playing the game show, Jeopardy, the answer would be “The person in the Bible who smelled most like a fish.” Your question could be, “Who was Lazarus after three days?” for obvious reasons.  Or another good answer would be “Who was John the Baptist?” Not sure bathing could have made up for the strange diet. Of course the correct question would be “Who was Jonah?”

We know the story but let’s refresh our memories. God had a job for him to do and told him to go to Ninevah, which would be like telling me to go to Atlanta. Jonah, in one of his more brain-impaired moments, thought he could run from God and fled in the opposite direction toward Tarshishkabob but only got as far as Tarshish. He had booked passage on a ship with some fun-loving sailors and headed across the sea. One problem. A storm came up and the fun-loving sailors blamed Jonah and told him to go jump in the lake - which he did . . . with their help.

While the instrumental title song from Jaws blared in the background, a whale began stalking Jonah. (The Bible is a little fuzzy on what kind of fish but I'm going with whale.) As the music got louder the whale closed in, mistook Jonah for Captain Ahab and swallowed him. Except for a bathroom down the hall in my college dorm I have never experienced anything like living inside of a whale, although I did sit by a large burly man in the theater one time who smelled like he just stepped out of a walrus.

The Bible never tells us what Jonah ate while he was inside the whale but we have to assume he was surrounded by leftovers. Probably lots of fish parts and kelp. I would imagine there is not a variety of neat things to keep one busy inside of a whale so Jonah contemplated his life, and prayed. Then the whale, after first making sure its mother wasn’t around, gave out a loud belch that would have made any church softball team proud – and Jonah landed on the beach.

Well, how often do we find ourselves doing the same thing? Oh, not the part about being belched out of a whale but the running from God part. For some of us it could be an Olympic event as we continually ask for trouble by saying “no” to God. The only difference between us and Jonah is that his experience got recorded in the Bible for everyone to read. Our story is usually between us and God. The difference is in the whale that swallows us.

We probably are in no danger of being swallowed by a literal whale, unless we fall in at Sea World, but if we continually run from something that God has for us to do we open up a can of worms and we will be just as miserable being swallowed up by the circumstances around us.  The further we get from God the darker it becomes. You don’t have to be inside a literal whale to experience whale-belly darkness. Have you been there? It is not a pretty place. Are you running from God? If you are going to argue with God you must remember an important lesson from Jonah. It is only one  small step from debate . . . to debait.  





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