As our small boat moved away from the floating house we had just visited, choppy waves rocked it and, I will admit, made this poor swimmer rather uneasy. When our vessels motor stalled, my apprehension increased I thought about Jonah’s plight when sailors threw him overboard into a stormy sea, where he was “rescued” when a large fish swallowed him. I remembered, too, Jonah’s prayer of gratitude from inside the fish (!) before it vomited him onto the beach. Frankly, as I weighed the possibility of drowning in the largest lake in Southeast Asia, I did not relish the possibility of becoming a menu item for the lake’s creatures. However, like Jonah, I remembered the power of the God who created our world and its diverse environments. The wind, the waves, and the ship in which we sat reminded me that the One who made our world and gave humans skill to build cares for his creation.
Our pilot restarted the engine and safely steered our tiny craft back to our larger ship. As he did so, I too prayed gratefully to our God. Like Jonah, I remembered that “deliverance belongs to the LORD” (Jonah 2:9). God remains a realistic source for hope when all else fails. Jonah’s story warns me not to presume on God’s grace. God rescued Jonah, but renewed the reluctant prophet’s mission. The redeemed acquire responsibility for leading other struggling souls to salvation.
O God who saves when all seems lost, Thank you for your love and care. Open our eyes so that we recognize your work in our lives. Open our hearts so that we may recognize and engage eagerly the mission you have prepared for us. Sustain us when we fear; bolster our courage when we consider surrender. Thank you for life, through Jesus I pray, Amen.