RIVERSIDE BLOG

Post Author: Judy Moore

Judy Moore is the Associate Pastor at Riverside Church.
April 28, 2023
Does God Really Hear Our Cry? | Session 2

BY: Judy Moore
DATE: Sunday 30 April 2023

BIBLE PASSAGES: Read online
Jonah | Chapter 1, verses 17 to Chapter 2, verse 10.

EXCERPT:

Inside the fish, Jonah prays. It is noticeable, though, that Jonah doesn’t really acknowledge or confess his sin. It’s almost as if he is more interested in his own rescue, than admitting his error? Maybe he hasn’t quite grasped the bigger picture about how wide God’s grace is.

It is only by the end of the prayer that we actually get to God’s grace – his steadfast love. It’s at this point that Jonah is released back to the land of the living. When Jonah is finally alone with God, and finally admits what God is like, then salvation comes. We sometimes say sorry to escape consequences, rather than actually being sorry. Maybe this is what Jonah is doing? Maybe it’s only when God is all we have left, that we discover God is all we need.

TRANSCRIPT:

Please scroll to the bottom of this page. 

  Youth Resources

BIBLE STUDY QUESTIONS

Each week there are TWO different sets of questions for you to use, whether you are exploring the Bible within your Life Group, in other group settings, or simply using them on your own.

A | DISCUSSION STARTERS
These are simple questions to provoke discussion together out of the talk (ideal if you are watching our Sunday Service online with others in your group):

1 | Was there anything that particularly helped you during the talk?

2 | Was there anything that you didn’t necessarily agree with, or found difficult to understand in the talk?

3 | As a result of the talk, what:

a. Changes do you want to see?

b. Truths do you need to remember?

c. Actions do you need to take?

 

 

B | QUESTIONS TO EXPLORE
These are questions that are based on the talk and the surrounding themes:

Read Jonah: Chapter 1, verses 17 to Chapter 2, verse 10.

 

1 | As you think back through the ‘storms’ in your own life, would you say that you have been more, or less, aware of God during them?

 

2 | Read Jonah 1:17-2:10. After the drama of chapter 1, Jonah is now in deep trouble. How does Jonah describe the circumstances he is in? What do you notice about the emphasis in his prayer – where does he direct the ‘blame’, and how long does it take him to admit any culpability in his situation?

 

3 | Read the following verses from the Psalms. As you read Jonah’s prayer, it is noticeable that Jonah thanks God for a rescue that has not yet happened! What do you think may be going on here – what strikes you about the formulaic nature of this prayer?
– Psalm 18:6
– Psalm 69:2
– Psalm 11:4
– Psalm 135:15-18

 

4 | Author Alicia Ostriker writes, ‘…for all its beautiful metaphor, Jonah’s prayer does not, in fact, express repentance for disobedience.’ Have you ever prayed to God simply to get you out of a mess you’ve created, without ever really being repentant?

 

5 | A key verse is v8, when Jonah describes the way in which God sees Jonah – depending on your translation it will say full of ‘love’, or ‘mercy’. Read Psalm 66:19-20 where the Psalmist uses the same word. It means ‘steadfast love or mercy’. So often we wonder if our prayers don’t seem to be answered because we are not praying in the ‘right’ way. How does God’s heart towards us change how we pray?

 

6 | Jonah knows that ‘salvation comes from the Lord’ (v9). Read Isaiah 43:10-12 and Romans 10:9-13. In our society today, where might we be tempted to look for our ‘salvation’, other than to Jesus? 

 

7 | In her talk on Sunday, Judy quoted from Peter Craigie, ‘But not until he [Jonah] was all the way down, finally stripped of his own buoyant self sufficiency, was deliverance possible.’  In what sense is this true – that it takes us coming to the end of our own resources before we really discover how much we need God?

 

8 | How encouraging is it to realise that, even though Jonah doesn’t seem to be completely repentant or have fully grasped his role in the mess, God still provides a rescuer (v10). How does this help us to realise that even though we don’t always grasp the full picture, that God’s grace is deeper and wider than we might imagine?

9 | Take some time to pray. Ask that God would help you to realise how dependant you are on him for your salvation, and how he is quick to show mercy and grace. 

 

As you work thorugh these questions pray for one another to deepen and develop your relationship with Jesus.

BIBLE STUDY RESOURCES

QUOTES |

“Sometimes God seems to be killing us when he’s actually saving us.”

(Timothy Keller)

“[The storms of life] rescue us from ourselves because we are never more open to God’s bigness than when we are most aware of our own smallness and helplessness. Storms mess with our agendas. Suffering, more than anything, shapes us in the way of Jesus.”
(Tim Mackie)

VIDEO |Helpful brief overviews of Jonah: The Bible Project: Jonah Video. (9 mins)

PODCAST |The Amazing Jonah by Tim Mackie

BOOK |

‘Obadiah, Jonah & Micah’
Apollos Old Testament Commentary (AOTC) by Elaine Phillips

BOOK |

‘You! Jonah!’ Poems by Thomas John Carlisle

BOOK |

‘A Gracious and Compassionate God’ by Daniel Timmer

BOOK |

‘The Prodigal Prophet’ by Timothy Keller

TRANSCRIPT

ARE YOU RUNNING TODAY?

Well, our sermon series title today is What Are You Running From? And you might sit there and think, “Actually, Judy, I’m not sure I’m running from anything at the moment. I’m not sure that I am. I feel in a good place.” Or maybe you join us this morning and you think, “I’m right in the storm, or I’m right in the depths of the sea where Jonah finds himself.” But one thing we know is that we will all have storms.

A few weeks ago, we were in the Book of James in the New Testament of the Bible, and it was made very clear by James that we would face trials, that they were not somehow a Christian embarrassment, that they were part of being a follower of Jesus, that storms will come in all of our lives. Most of us at some point, if not even now, will have said, “Does God really hear my cry? Does he really hear my cry?” And that is the question that we’re looking at in this chapter two (and the end of chapter one) of Jonah.

There’s a sense to which in our lives we are all running at some point from God. Whether you’d say that’s now, we’re all running. Very rarely do we look into the face of God and have nothing that separates us from Him. We’re all running. But the amazing news of chapter two is that God is always chasing us with His grace, with His mercy. In Psalm 23, in the Old Testament, we read, ‘Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life…’

JONAH’S STORM

Last week we heard from Tim that we begin by critiquing Jonah, that he’s almost perhaps a comedic figure to us, that he goes so badly wrong that we can all breathe a sigh of relief and think, “Well, he really got it wrong.” He knew that God was sending him to Nineveh, and he went diametrically opposite. Now, I’ve got a terrible sense of direction, but even I know Iraq and Spain are very different places, as we were reminded last week. But he goes absolutely in the opposite direction because he does not want Nineveh to experience God’s mercy and grace.

And then here he is, thrown into the depths of the sea, jumping in to save the sailors. And I loved what Tim shared, and I would recommend you watching it if you haven’t already heard his talk. I love what he shared about the sailors running around, going, “Does your God work? Does your God work?” And then finally finding in God, the God we follow, the God we hear at Riverside Church believe in, saying, “Actually, He is Lord of the wind and the waves. He is Lord in your storm. He is the Lord. He is the One.” And Jonah jumps into the water and the waters calm and the sailors commit their lives. If you like, the storm for the sailors calms down, but the storm is only just beginning, in a way, in Jonah’s life.

 

THE CAUSE AND CREATION OF STORMS

And some storms, and I want to be really clear on this, some storms we’re partly responsible for, aren’t we? And this is one of those for Jonah. However, as a pastor, I know, and please hear this, there are many storms that are not of your making, that are not of my making, that are the result of someone else’s sin. But one thing we do know is that sin has storm attached to it. Our sins have storm attached to it. The things that we do wrong, the rebellion that is in all of our hearts will bring our storms.

I read this week, and I thought this was really interesting – there will always be a ship to take us to Tarshish, interestingly. If you want it, if you’re a bit bored with faith, or you’ve got a bit cold in your faith, or you have no faith, there will always be a ship to take you away from God, whether that’s a relationship, whether that’s an addiction, whether that’s something else that you alone know that will take you away from God. Maybe it’s the shame, the lie that your shame makes you hide from rather than run towards God. There will always be a ship to take us to Tarshish.

 

STORMS AND WHALES

But interestingly, there will always be a whale to bring us back, a vehicle of grace. There will always be a vehicle of grace and mercy to bring us back. Well, you might say, “Well, how do you know that in my storm?” Well, I know because his name is Jesus. And he’s always been bringing me back, always been bringing you back to his grace and to his mercy.

Because the whale should have been gnashing its teeth (if they have those). The big expanse of the whale should have been death for Jonah. It could have been quite a short story, let’s be honest! We’re at the end of chapter one, he’s jumped in. If it was a film, you might be thinking, “What’s going to happen now?” The jaws come along, in he goes. You think, “Okay, it’s ended by chapter one.” But actually, what do we read? We read that the Lord provided.

In some translations, it says the Lord ‘appointed’ a large fish to swallow Jonah. That God has gone ahead of Jonah. Because we know in chapter one, and it’s worth re-reading that, that it was God who sent the storm. So that feels a little bit unfair, but God has sent the rescue. He has sent the storm, but he has provided a large fish to swallow Jonah.

 

JONAH AND JESUS

And Jonah is inside of the fish for three days and for three nights. And if you’ve been around Christianity or the Gospel of Jesus for very long, you will know that Jesus died and rose again. That three days and three nights represent the time where Jesus died on Good Friday and rose again as we celebrate on Easter Sunday. That he faced the very depth, the destruction, the absolute separation, the furthest He could go from his God – like Jonah is here – only to be reconciled. Why did he do that? For you and me, for our rebellion, for our Tarshish, for our wandering off. He did that for us.

For three nights, Jonah is experiencing what is called a severe mercy. The paradox of a severe mercy in our lives is that it could be that our storm may be the very thing that happens to us because of what it does in our soul. And often we look at our circumstances and we say, “Well, God isn’t hearing my cry because he hasn’t taken it away. I’m still in the whale. I’m still there.” But actually, God is with him right in the centre of the whale.

 

JONAH’S PRAYER

And so this prayer, this poem, this Psalm as it’s been described, rises up from Jonah. And he says this in verse 2, he says, ‘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.’ And if you look at verse 2, if you’ve got your Bibles, do you have a look at it because this struck me just this week. He starts by saying, ‘… I called to the Lord…’ for help, so he’s talking a bit theoretically. But then he says, ‘…and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.’ So he’s gone from talking about God to talking to God in his storm.

And I think there’s a lesson in that, if we’re in a storm today, that actually, Jonah was used to talking about God. We heard he was a prophet, probably a public speaker. He was used to talking about God. But in his storm, in his trial, he’s suddenly talking to God. And the answer (spoiler alert: you can stop listening to talk now if you want to) is, “Does God hear our cry? Yes, He does.” Yes, He does. And Jonah testifies to that right in this deep, deep pit of death. He says, “The Lord listened to my cry.” God sends the storm, but He sends the whale. He hears our cry.

 

JONAH’S HEART

And if you look down, Jonah’s language, the agency of his language here, is blame, really. He’s still blaming God. He says, “You hurled me into the depths.” Well, actually, he jumped, didn’t he? “You hurled me into the depths. It’s your waves that have come over me. Your breakers have swept over me. I’m wearing seaweed.” I think that’s a very funny image. I picture him with that all tangled in his hair. He’s in a bit of a meltdown. He’s in a pity party, as many of us know, we can all get there. He’s tangled up.

Interestingly, he doesn’t yet repent. He’s beginning to realise God’s being merciful to him. He’s beginning to realise that maybe this fish is God’s provision. He says he’s in the land of the deep. And the word mentioned here is ‘sheol’, which means soul death. He’s almost saying, “I’m in soul death here because of my disobedience.” And again, the parallel with Jesus, the three days and three nights taking on all of the rebellion of you and I, all of the distancing and saying, “Come back to me.”

We read in verse 3 of chapter one that Jonah goes down to Joppa. We then hear he goes down below deck in verse 5. We then hear in chapter two, From deep in the realm of the dead… the deep surrounded me…’ He is at the very, very deepest point. And interestingly, in the stomach of the whale, he actually has nothing to do. Now, if that was me, it would kill me. Anyone else? There’s nothing to do. Think lockdown and then multiply it by whatever. He is in this fish and there is nothing to do. He can’t pull out his phone. He can’t do anything. He’s stuck. Not much to do. Prayer, if you like, is all he’s got. And they say, don’t they? We don’t really know how to pray until prayer is all we’ve got.

 

PRAYER IN THE DEPTHS OF FAILURE

Prayer is all he’s got. At the start of the pandemic, I remember Pete Greig said, “We are called at the moment, not to a diminished life, but to a deeper one.” In other words, Jonah has sort of shrunk, his whole world has shrunk into this stomach. But actually he goes deeper into the grace and mercy of God. He finds the depths of God’s love for him. Peter Craigie says, “But not until he (Jonah) was all the way down, finally stripped of his own buoyant self sufficiency was deliverance possible.”

And failure in our lives is interesting. This is moral failure. He’s been disobedient and we’ll all have experienced failure, whether it’s been of our own making or not. Failure is one of our greatest teachers. And yet it’s the thing that we’re conditioned to avoid at all costs because we want to be this shiny, successful Christian, or not a Christian. We just want life to be successful. And as it comes crashing down, this is when a lot of work starts to happen in our lives if we let it.

I was with someone just this week who said, “I’ve realised, Judy, that actually, in my storm, God has shrunk and I needed him to be way bigger.” And so we were able to pray, “Well, actually our storms, instead of shrinking God, they make him bigger because we don’t understand him.” The Celtics have a word for it, in terms of mystery that our struggles, when we don’t understand, when we shout out, “God, are you really hearing my cry?”, they say, “Well, God is bigger. You’re way beyond.” And how do we know that from this story? Because God is always working. He’s always a step ahead of Jonah, way ahead of Jonah. He’s always got a plan if Jonah will surrender to his mercy.

 

HEROIC FAILURES

J K Rowling, who’s an incredibly successful author (whatever you might think of her writing, she’s been one of the big earners, the big writers of our lifetime), she says, “My success was built on all my failures.” My success was built on all of my failures.

And the Bible – this is where it gets good for encouraging for all of us who have failures – the Bible is a book of heroic failures. That’s the truth of it. Abraham, Joseph, Elijah, Peter, David, all become leaders through failure and suffering. In our storms, we discover who we really are, don’t we? Because in that stomach of the whale, all of our self sufficiency, as Peter Craigie says, is all stripped away. The Lord listens to his cry.

 

SEEING IDOLS IN OUR STORMS

Then he goes on and says, ‘I have been banished from your sight…’ So he’s still a little bit pity party here. You’ve done this to me. And then he says, ‘… yet’ – and yet is a powerful word at this point, – ‘I will look again toward your holy temple.’ And then he says something really beautiful, ‘Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them.’ They forfeit His Grace.

He suddenly realised that the ideals that he was critiquing Nineveh for, that he didn’t want them to be shown mercy on, are right there with him. That he had his own idols. And you and I are the same. We have idols in our lives. We do. And sometimes those idols are very subtle. I was asking God, in a way, what my idols are this week, because when you preach, it’s always a bit of a heavy thing in that way. And I was saying, “God, what are my idols?” And one of them is still busyness. And some of you know, I try really hard to slow down.

We did a Lectio Divina in my triplet the other week. Sue Iqbal beautifully said, “I’ve got a picture here of a park bench and one verse and we’re going to reflect. How long do you think you’ll need?” And lovely Helen Farquharson and Lindsay Lucas both chorus at the same time, “30 or 40 minutes.” I said “10” straight away at the same time, 10 minutes. And everybody laughed because they know that sometimes, that for me is, “Oh, it’s an action. I can get that done. I can be on that park bench. I can think, God loves me. Got it. Finished.” I was like that at school. Anyone else? Done, finished. And maybe I got it wrong – messed up or got it wrong – but actually, that might be an idol for me. But let’s pray today that God will keep on showing us through our storms, where are the idols? Where are the things that keep us running? And God’s mercy keeps on bringing us back.

 

JONAH’S HEART BEGINS TO CHANGE

Jonah says, “The bars have closed on me forever. The Earth beneath me has barred me.” He realises that he’s barred for his own rebellion and that there is no way he can rescue himself. The idea that we can somehow fix ourselves through moral effort would have been around in Jonah’s day, and it’s still around today.

One of the greatest testimonies I remember hearing at someone’s baptism was lovely Donna Solomon, who didn’t say, “Oh, I did everything wrong.” In a way, she said, “I just kept trying to do everything right. I just kept trying to be a good person and then realised that we all need the Grace of Jesus, that we all need his forgiveness, his mercy.”

 And Jonah says, ‘yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ Well, why? Because that was the place of atonement. That was the place on the day of the atonement where the priest got the blood of a sacrificial lamb and sprinkled it over the mercy seat. Think of the symbolism of that for the moment. The temple believed to be the Holy of Holies, where the mercy seat was, that a sacrificial animal or lamb, the blood was spread on the day of atonement.

And so God is beginning in the storm to work on Jonah’s heart. And he’s beginning to think, “Actually, I need to look back towards the temple, back towards the place of mercy, back towards the place of forgiveness.” He’s saying in his soul sickness, in his soul death, he needs life again. But if you look, he still doesn’t necessarily fully understand grace. He starts to understand mercy, but he doesn’t fully understand grace. And as Jonah prays, he starts to ascend. So he’s gone down and down and down, and he starts to ascend, not physically, but actually, he starts to say, “You are God. You are in the Holy Temple.” And he starts to be recreated by his own prayer.

I read this week that actually, firstly, what saves Jonah is his prayer in the whale. That actually his rescue comes before he’s burped out of the whale. His rescue comes right in the stomach of the whale. Tim Mackie says, “(The storms of life) rescue us from ourselves because we were never more open to God’s bigness than when we are more aware of our smallness and our helplessness. Storms mess with our agenda. Suffering, more than anything, shapes us in the way of Jesus.” The friend that I was talking to this week said, “Yes, my storm has somehow shrank my view of God. I want to expand my view of God.”

 

THE CROSS AND THE SWITCHBLADE

In the early 1970s, there was a famous story called The Cross and The Switchblade. Anyone old enough to remember it? It was one of the first Christian stories I ever read about a hapless preacher living in Pennsylvania. He prays a dangerous prayer. He says, “Show me my idols”, the same as I did this week. And for him, it’s television. He realises that television is his way of switching off. He’s a local country preacher.

So he says, “Oh Lord, maybe I should pray, maybe I’ll pray more if I sell my television. I’m not sure you want me to, but what I’ll do is I’ll put it on offer for an hour. And if there are no takers, I’ll know that you want me to keep my television.” And so he puts it on there. And I can so imagine doing this, I am with him on this. And he thinks, “Oh, fantastic.” And the time goes by, 57 minutes, nothing, 59 minutes, nothing. “God wants me to keep my television.” In the 59th minute (how annoying is this?!), in the 59th minute, he gets the phone call, “I’ll take your television.” And his heart sinks. He thinks, “Oh, God really does want me to pray.”

And so he just starts praying and praying and praying. And as he is praying, in the hour that he would have spent each night watching television, he starts to have this heart full of love. The opposite, if you like, of Jonah and Nineveh, for New York City. He’s in Pennsylvania. It’s beautiful. If you’ve been there, it’s leafy, it’s protected. It’s quite safe compared to the streets of New York. And then one of these prayer times, he sees Life magazine, and he sees the faces of these children who are gang leaders. And his heart breaks. His heart breaks for them. And he says, “I think I have to go to New York.” And his wife thinks he’s mad. And then he thinks, “Well, I’ll tell the congregation and they’ll think I’m mad and they won’t give me the money to go.” And they get the exact money that he needs to go.

And so he thinks, “Well, I have to go.” And he goes. And he goes to the very courtroom where these boys are on trial. And he makes a total fool of himself. A total fool of himself. He can’t help himself. In the middle when these children are about to be tried for a murder that they did commit, he says, “Can I talk to you, judge? Can I somehow make an appeal on their behalf?” And he’s thrown out of the courtroom. And there’s an embarrassing picture. The press get hold of it. There’s an embarrassing picture. They say, “Are you ashamed of your Bible?” He says, “No, I’m not.” Holds it up. And that’s the photo on the front page. ‘Crazy preacher comes in and disrupts the courtroom.’

And he goes back to Pennsylvania in total shame. He’s embarrassed, he’s failed – his church know it, his wife knows it, he knows it. And then in one of his TV prayer times, again, what happens is God says, “Can you go back to New York?” Well, we’d all have a moment then, I think, wouldn’t we? And say, “No, no, no – they don’t like me there. I’m not going back. I was thrown out.” But he goes back. He goes back, and the beautiful thing (and there’s so much I could say about this story), but the beautiful thing is that as he goes back, he gets access to the gangs. Why? Because he was thrown out of court. Someone says, “Aren’t you that preacher who disrupted the courtroom? You’re on our side.” And suddenly, what was a failure becomes totally redeemed. And it is worth – I know it’s an old story, but it is a good one. But actually, he gets to the very heart of the ganglands of the New York. He gets to meet Nikki Cruz, the most violent of all the gang leaders. And he keeps on pursuing him with love.

He keeps on saying, “Do you know God loves you?” Nikki is so angry at one point, he gets a knife to him and he says, “I’m going to cut you up into tiny pieces, preacher.” I’m not sure this would have been my answer, but his answer is, “If you do that, every piece would shout out, God loves you.” He thinks this is a man of metal. And suddenly, there’s a beautiful moment where Nikki Cruz says, “I am tired of running from this relentless love.”

 

ARE YOU TIRED OF RUNNING?

And I just felt as I was praying for today, maybe you’re joining online, maybe you’re here in the room – are you tired of running from this relentless love, this grace, this mercy that God has for you? He has not given up on Jonah, he’s not given up on him. He’s provided, he’s appointed a vehicle, not of destruction, but of salvation in Jesus. Jonah has been running and he suddenly realises what he’s been running from is grace. He’s been running from Grace. How weird is that?

He says, “I’ve been banished from your sight. I looked to your holy temple. Those who cling to idol turn away from God’s love.” And then he says in verse 9, ‘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.’

I’ve got myself in a pickle. I’ve read so many commentaries on this, I was telling Tim earlier that I… It slightly blew my mind this week. There’s so much that we could say about this, but one thing is true is that many commentators say this is the verse of the whole Bible. No pressure. But actually, isn’t it a summary of the Gospel that we believe? Salvation is of the Lord. It’s not about our good works. It’s about throwing ourselves back onto the mercy of Jesus time and time again.

 

UNDERSTANDING GRACE AND MERCY

Are we really convinced that God is full of grace for us? Because even at the end of chapter two, and Nate will pick this up next week in chapter three, he hasn’t fully understood God’s grace. And we can say, “He still hasn’t quite got it. He knows that rescue is coming. He knows to look for the Holy Temple, but there’s still a bit of him that hasn’t repented. There’s no language of repentance yet here. It’s, ‘You heard me into the sea. You’ve done this.’ I’ll look again to the place of mercy.”

Tim Keller says that actually, if you think you’re captain of your boat and you’re heading for a rock, there are two ways to pray. You either pray, “Lord, take the rock away,” or you say, “Let the waters rise.” I think that’s prophetic for us today in our struggles, in our storms. Many of us have been praying, “Take the rock away. Take the rock away.” And when we say, “Do you listen to my cry?” You’ve said, “No, he hasn’t. He hasn’t taken the rock away.” But this passage tells us the waters can rise. Because what happens for Jonah is he starts to praise God and then his release comes. He starts to say, “I look again to your holy temple. I praise you in the mystery. I praise you in the depths.” And he starts to rise. The power of praise in our storm is a mighty thing, but also the power of mercy. To let His mercy, His Grace, sweep over us again.

Amazing Grace. Are we still amazed? Are you and I still amazed? That He would save a wretch like me. That He would pour His grace and mercy into us and for us. David Wilkerson, that same preacher says, “We are so busy working on God, we forget He is working on us to remake us into vessels of His glory. We are so busy praying for God to change things that we have little time to allow prayer to change us.”

 

MEETING JESUS IN THE STORM

What happens first, Jonah’s prayer changes him and then his circumstances. And he’s suddenly thrown out of the whale. Grace transforms us. In Colossians, we read that the gospel has borne fruit in you since the very beginning. When you first believe, the gospel of grace has been a work in you. And sometimes I can get frustrated with myself and think, “Why haven’t I grown more? Why haven’t I become more of a shiny Christian than I want to be?” And then I realise this Grace is transforming me, that I’m still like Jonah, that sometimes I want His provision out of the storm, rather than His work within the storm, His Grace poured out for me.

Salvation comes only from the Lord. He’s our rescuer. He’s the one who will take us from the depths. He’s the one who will calm the storm. He’s with us. He’s listening. He’s providing. He’s changing us. He’s saving us. And if somehow today you’re lost, maybe you think, “I’ve gone in the opposite direction”, that you caught the boat that came along, the boat of temptation, the boat of whatever it was. Maybe like last week, you know that you were, Jonah, that you were hiding, that somehow you find yourself in need of a rescuer. Jesus has and is the rescue plan for us now and eternally.

I think as we respond, I’d love us to just examine all of our hearts. I’ve done this and will do this today to say, “Am I still really amazed by his grace?” Because that will change how we live. It will change how we share this Good News with our friends and our colleagues this week. It will change how we view our storm, our rock, whatever it might be. It will change because we know God loves us. We know he is our rescuer, that he sent what could have been a vehicle of destruction to be a vehicle of mercy.

 

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