From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 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 water 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.

At first glance, the book of Jonah scared me. I remember reading it for the first time my freshman year of college and thinking to myself, "I really don't want to be a Jonah". From that point on, I began to live in a place of fear of disobedience, paranoia that I was mishearing God, and feeding my imagination of what would be the modern day version of being swallowed by a fish. Not the most pleasant day dreams, as you may imagine.

All that to say, I did not take into account grace. The grace that allowed Jonah to be swallowed by a whale so that he could more deeply understand the importance of obedience to God. The grace that took him back out of the fish and gave him a second chance because God's heart was not for Jonah to suffer and die in his disobedience. The grace that allowed Jonah to pick up right where he left off, as a man entrusted by God to bring his message to people. And finally, the grace that made Jonah fully loved and used by God even in the midst of being disobedient.

The story of Jonah is not about disobedience to God. It is about how eager God is to show grace to us, even when we hear his voice clear as day and turn the other way. Because of God's reckless love for us and Jesus' sacrifice, we get endless second chances.

This is my challenge for you- if there is a part of you that wonders if that means that God doesn't care about disobedience, this is a good verse to think about...

Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Romans 6:1-2

And/or if you fear the consequences of disobeying God, think about these verses...

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

"I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. Isaiah 43:25

- Bailey Meyne