Big Fish…Big Attitude – A Fish with Indegestion

10 Then the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto the dry land (Jonah 2:10, Common English Bible).

Folks I know I have missed a few days posting. I had some family business that needed my involvement. It is my hope to finish Jonah without further interruptions.

The thought of being alive and inside the belly of any animal is a pretty disgusting thought. It is also pretty frightening. Think about it. The smell would probably be awful. How would you ever get air to breath in the belly of another animal. And, wouldn’t the belly of a fish be full of water?

I will be the first to admit, I know very little biology, whether it be zoology or botany. In humans, I do know there is some pretty strong acid in our stomachs. The only reason it usually doesn’t eat a hole through our stomachs is lining that protects the stomach itself. Without that lining, we would all suffer from stomach ulcers.

I don’t know if the same is true for other animals and since today we are talking specifically fish, I really don’t know. I do know that many fish eat fish. I had an aquarium a couple of times in my life. When one of my livebearer fish would have newborn fish came into the aquarium I would have to put something in the tank where these tiny fish could survive without being eaten by the larger and often more aggressive fish. Even mama fish was not afraid to eat her own young.

The thing is, I know dead fish stink. If you found yourself in the belly of a dead fish, well let’s just say it wouldn’t be a pleasant experience.

And yet, Scripture reminds us that such a place is exactly where Jonah found himself, in the stinky belly of a giant. Fish. What is more, Jonah was there for three days. I would hope that my brain tuned out the nasty smell.

While Jonah was in the fish belly, as we looked at in my last post, Jonah prayed. Jonah knew he was wrong for running in the opposite direction from God. He knew that is the reason he found himself in such a difficult situation.

So God talked to the fish. For those who don’t think God speaks, if God is going to talk to a fish, don’t you think it just might be possible for God to speak to you?

Anyway, I digress. I titled this post “A Fish with Indigestion.” I don’t really know if the fish had indigestion. Maybe that is what God told the fish. As far as the topic of the conversation or how the fish would vomit Jonah out, the Bible is silent. But, suffice it to say, the fish with indigestion did vomit Jonah out on the beach.

Jonah disobeyed God. For his trouble, Jonah suffered a great deal. He was on a ship that found itself in distress. He was thrown into fierce sea conditions. He was swallowed by a giant fish. He stayed in the fish belly for three days. And, he was regurgitated onto dry land.

None of it sounds very good. But, there is some good news in all of that. It is in the last two words, “dry land.” Jonah deserved punishment but when he prayed, in essence, he asked for forgiveness, for another chance.

In placing him outside the fish belly and on dry land, Jonah had another chance. There is a word for that, “GRACE.” Jonah didn’t deserve his deliverance and yet God did it anyway.

Like Jonah, we disobey God. But, if we pray, we just might find (no really, we will find) grace, a second (or third or fifth or tenth chance) chance. That is grace. We don’t deserve grace, but God blesses us with it anyway. It is a free gift, offered to us without a price.

We probably won’t end up in a fish belly. And, divine forgiveness doesn’t mean we will avoid earthly penalties. But God still loves us and will bestow grace upon us and others, even when they don’t deserve it, as Jonah will learn in the lessons to come.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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