And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the stomach of the fish….Salvation is from the Lord.
Jonah 1:17-2:1, 9
Not much is said in the story of Jonah about this great fish that God had swallow Jonah. We aren't told how big it is, what it looked like, or even what kind of fish it was. Obviously it was big enough to swallow Jonah whole and big enough for Jonah to stay alive in its stomach for three days. We don’t know the details, but I want to give this fish a name – Grace. Grace swallowed Jonah that day, Grace got Jonah back on track with God, and Grace took Jonah where he needed to be.
When you think of grace what do you normally think of? You probably don’t picture a big man eating fish do you? Grace, simply defined, is us receiving what we do not deserve. Which sounds great. But, grace is more profound than that. The grace Jesus came and revealed to us is the gift of a relationship and a life full of purpose. It wasn’t cheap, but quite expensive as it cost Him His life. Grace is salvation from, but also salvation to. In grace we are receiving the salvation we do not deserve while at the same time receiving the transformation (the life) we do not deserve.
Consider Jonah. A failed and rebellious prophet of God lost at sea having given his own life for those of the pagan sailors. He refused to accept all of God, but wanted Him on his own terms. Grace found him though, in the sea, and swallowed him up so God could transform him into the man God knew he could be – a prophet with a life transforming message.
That fish was the crucible of grace Jonah desperately needed. We need those moments, those events in our lives that take us to our bottom so we can receive God’s grace more fully. We need to realize we are unable to save or change ourselves and surrender fully to God, who alone can save us. We need sometimes to not be told how far from God we are, but shown how much we need Him. It is in those moments we realize how precious of a gift grace is and what it is God has done for us and wants to keep doing in us.
Know that God, in His grace, wants to save you and make you into the best version of you – the version He created you to be.
Pastor Matt Huff leads Portland Central Nazarene Church. He loves being in ministry and seeing lives transformed by the power of Christ.