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A Whale of a Lesson December 17, 2017

Kay Kuzma, Fit Forever, 2005, RHPA

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish: . . . “When I had lost all hope, I turned my thoughts once more to the Lord. . . . I will never worship anyone but you! For how can I thank you enough for all you have done?” Jonah 2:1-9, TLB.

It was almost 8:30 when Marilyn invited me to walk down the beach with her. I was planning to power walk with another friend–as I did religiously each morning–so I was about to decline when the phone rang and my walking partner said she couldn’t make it. “Marilyn,” I called, “I’ll join you.” That’s why I was on the beach when it happened. It was the first time in three years of living next to the ocean that I had seen anything like it. Just past the breakers, about 100 feet away, a pod of whales were spouting, cavorting, breaching, and crashing into the water.

“Look over there. Wow! It’s incredible!” we shouted to each other as again and again the whales rose into the air, flapped their tails, and disappeared beneath the surface. We were wild with excitement!

Later, I thought about Jonah. I imagined myself entombed in a fish’s belly enduring the internal roller-coaster ride as it dove to the bottom of the ocean and then rose to breach and dove again. I would have screamed to God, “Get me out of here!” But that’s not what Jonah prayed. Instead, he recognized that this was God’s way of saving him from death. And right there, in the midst of half-digested food, Jonah thanked God. Then he promised that He’d do what God wanted him to do.

All of us have days when we feel we’re in the belly of a whale. Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, blaming God, or screaming “Get me out of here,” maybe we should accept the experience as God’s wake-up call–His way of saving us–and then choose to do what we know we should.

You’re in the hospital after by-pass surgery: “Wake up and change your lifestyle.” Your pants are too tight: “Wake up, watch what you eat, and exercise!” Persistent cough: “Wake up and stop smoking!” Chest pains: “Wake up and make that doctor’s appointment!” Headache: “Wake up, increase your water intake and reduce the stress!”

I hope it doesn’t take something as drastic as a ride in the belly of a whale to teach me it’s always better to do it God’s way.

God, please soften my stubborn will so I don’t have to ride in the belly of a whale to learn the lessons You want me to learn.

—Laura Le Salisbury

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