Rev. Brian Lothridge
Sailors used to get tattoos on their knuckles that learn “HOLD FAST.” One letter would seem on every of the non-thumb fingers. Maintain quick comes from the Dutch “houd huge,” which suggests “maintain tight.” This time period can be shouted as the ocean grew to become offended. These on board would “houd huge” to the ship’s ropes and rigging.
The tattoo was a reminder to them to bear down and keep the course, even when the ocean bought tough. The ocean could be a wild place when storms fire up the wind and the waves. A great storm can induce worry even on the most important of boats. To carry quick can be to face the storm, to journey it out, to carry onto the hope that the storm will go and you’ll arrive safely to your vacation spot.
I believed the message of maintain quick was good for the second we’re in collectively. Humanity has been collectively thrown into the ocean and this time of COVID-19 has us feeling like we’re within the stomach of the fish.
The query is, what can we do with this time? Can we complain that we’re within the stomach of the fish? Can we scream with protest that we must be liberated? Maybe the stomach of the fish is the place we must be proper now to replicate upon who we’re and what we have to do as soon as we go away the fish.
Jonah’s drawback was that he ran from God after God advised him to evangelise towards Nineveh, the capital metropolis of Assyria. One might hardly blame Jonah. It could have been like asking one in every of us to go to Pyongyang, North Korea, and preach towards it. Anybody right here up for that process? So Jonah tries to flee from accountability however God has a method of giving him a second likelihood.
Sure, God is asking him to do one thing tough, however all all through the story we see how God is at all times with Jonah and the way God has grace for each Jonah and the residents of Nineveh.
There’s a level when the seas had been raging that Jonah thought he deserved to die for operating from God. He didn’t suppose others ought to die for his mistake. So he advised them to throw him over. However God had grace for Jonah. He didn’t need Jonah to die. He wished Jonah to do what he was known as to do. God offered for Jonah and saved him by having an enormous fish swallow him. Jonah doesn’t die, however he’s pressured to shelter in place for a bit earlier than he’s introduced again to land.
In that point Jonah prayed to God a psalm of gratitude for God’s grace and salvation. “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your temple. Those that cling to nugatory idols forfeit the grace that may very well be theirs. However I, with a music of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I’ve vowed I’ll make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.”
That is Jonah holding quick to hope. That is Jonah trusting in God that the ocean nor the abdomen of the fish shall be his grave.
“Salvation comes from the Lord” represents the theological basis of the Jonah story. Salvation for Nineveh comes from the Lord. Salvation for Jonah comes from the Lord. The God of the second likelihood stands able to forgive each Nineveh and Jonah. God’s salvation and nice love for all individuals stands far past what we might think about.
God not solely loves a disobedient Jonah however God additionally loves a disobedient Nineveh, a individuals whom Jonah and his individuals Israel hated. Maybe Jonah wanted to seek out himself within the stomach of a fish in the midst of the ocean to be nonetheless sufficient to start to grasp what salvation means.
We at the moment are within the stomach of the fish, so to talk. The world is in a partial stand-still. Now we have been taken from the world we all know and have discovered ourselves in limbo. Now’s a time to carry quick. Now’s the time to replicate on the salvation that comes from God’s nice love for all individuals. Now’s the time to make good on what now we have vowed to God.
After we get again to land, will we comply with God the place God leads us? Will we see that salvation doesn’t come from our personal striving and our personal storing of wealth? Will we see that our salvation can’t be gained by destroying the earth and each other?
Allow us to maintain quick to the salvation we discover in Jesus, who offers us the signal of Jonah. If there’s to be new life, the outdated should die for the brand new to be born. Jonah’s life didn’t finish within the sea. The fish that was to be his tomb was emptied. The cross was not the tip of Jesus and the tomb carved inside the rock was discovered to be empty that first Easter morning.
Life is a collection of deaths and rebirths. It’s the sample we see in Jonah, in Jesus, and within the altering of the seasons.
We shouldn’t be stunned that this sample seems in our personal lives as properly.
As disturbing as being trapped on this fish can really feel proper now, allow us to study from this liminal area — this area between the outdated and the brand new — and maintain quick to our hope in God. A brand new world is dawning. Let’s belief God and comply with God the place God is main us.