Prayers From The Great Fish’s Belly

Jonah and Great Fish

Dark nights happen to everyone. Some people’s dark nights are darker than others. Some seem so dark that light is a distant memory, a possible embellishment of the imagination. Some nights seem so dark that you question everything you believed to be true about yourself, your life and even God.

It’s in those deeply pigmented places that platitudes and cliche’s have a retching effect on the receiver. They sound shallow, hollow, devoid of life, empathy or reality. These are when prayers from the belly of the fish come forth from the belly of the soul.

When Jonah found himself in the belly of the great fish, he began to pray. Perhaps it was the first real prayer of his entire prophetic career. A prayer of earth. A prayer of terror. A prayer of surrender. When we finally pray a prayer born in the dark, we are at that place where we know we have no control, no escape, no salvation apart from  divine intervention. This is where real life begins.

Listen to Jonah’s prayer from this dark place:

…“I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple. ‘The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit,O LORD my God. When my life was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!”

Sheol means “the realm of the dead.” Sheol is a land of hopelessness. A place disconnected from God, hope, life. Sheol is a place where we cry out to God with groans that are to deep for language. What has been your Sheol?

We cry out…we shout…we argue…

We feel that God is nowhere to be found…

BUT…when all seemed lost, when the waters were covering us…

When the light was diminishing like a candle depleting its wax…

As the jail bars closed shut with a loud click and clang…

Then I remembered…

Then I prayed…

Then my prayer came to God…

When Jonah changed his focus from “Sheol” to the sovereignty of God, not only did His thinking shift, but his circumstances changed. As his words moved from self-focus, in the depths, to God-focus, who dwells on high, he was able to offer words of thanks and gratitude to God.

Prayers from the belly of a fish are spiritually defining moments used by God to form us. Even when we walk through the dark places, God is with us. Even when the valley seems endless, God reminds us that there is light. Even when the jail bars of Sheol click tightly, God’s voice shatters the cage.

Maybe, the reminder we need is that there is no big fish that is bigger than God.

Sunday Night Quotes 4/22/2012-Spring

Today was absolutely beautiful in the Pacific Northwest! The evening has been  just perfect as we celebrate Earth Day to the tunes sung by the evening birds and receding sun. Today has actually felt like Spring actually has arrived. With these experiences fresh in mind tonight’s quotes are about Spring!

Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!
~Sitting Bull

“Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.” ~Robert Schuller

Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!”  ~Robin Williams

Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.  ~Rainer Maria Rilke

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.  ~Proverb

Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.  ~Virgil A. Kraft

That God once loved a garden we learn in Holy writ. And seeing gardens in the Spring I well can credit it. ~Winifred Mary Letts

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.  ~Margaret Atwood

And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley, “The Sensitive Plant”

Spring has returned.  The Earth is like a child that knows poems.  ~Rainer Maria Rilke

The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another.  The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.  ~Henry Van Dyke

Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself ~ Lao Tzu

Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.  ~Victor Hugo

If you do not sow in the spring you will not reap in the autumn. ~Irish Proverb

Sunday Night Quotes 4/8/2012- Easter

Since today is Easter, here are some Easter quotes to fill your thoughts and soul.

~Monty

Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time.  ~Martin Luther

There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou – Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.  ~Emily Bronte

We live and die; Christ died and lived!  ~John Stott

Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.  ~Pope John Paul II

You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.   ~Kahlil Gibran

This is the Easter message, that awakening is possible, to the goodness of God, the sacredness of human life, the sisterhood and brotherhood of all.  ~Anne Lamott

Before the Resurrection of Christ, the Holy Spirit came upon individuals only on certain occasions for special tasks. But now, after the Resurrection, Christ through the Holy Spirit dwells in the heart of every believer to give us supernatural power in living our daily lives.   ~Rev. Billy Graham

Two thousand years ago, in the Middle East, an event occurred that permanently changed the world. Because of that event, history was split. Every time you write a date, you’re using the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as the focal point.   ~Rick Warren

The resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over
no matter what my circumstances.   ~Robert Flatt

The tomb of Christ is famous because of what it DOES NOT CONTAIN.”   ~Sam Morris

The benefits [of the resurrection] are innumerable. To list a few:
Our illnesses don’t seem  nearly so final;
Our fears fade and lose their grip;
Our grief over those who have gone on is diminished;
Our desires to press on in spite of the obstacles is rejuvenated…
Our identity as Christians is strengthened as we stand in the lengthening shadows of saints
down through the centuries, who have always answered back in antiphonal voice: ‘He is risen, indeed!   ~Charles Swindoll