Every Toddler Needs a Whale Belly

Elcee is two.
And she is the epitome of independent.
Nearly anything a two year old does in an average day, she thinks she can do it “all on my own”.

It’s kinda cute,
in hindsight of each day.

One thing I have noticed more and more about Elcee and her maverick motivations is that each time it doesn’t work out the way she knows it’s supposed to, she says this phrase over
and over
and over
and over
and over
until she relinquishes control  and someone comes to her aid and rescue and
the problem gets resolved.

The phrase:
Each time she says it, it builds in gusto and emotion.
It may start with frustration, but it escalates quickly to desperation.

She has lost control of the problem at hand.
She has lost control of the outcome.
And she has lost control of her actions.

She is reacting to the problem,
not responding to the problem.

If only her toddler intelect allowed for a fully theological discussion.
This is what I would say to Elcee.
And I think you may need to hear it to.
(The Lord, Jesus knows I need to be reminded of this on the daily).

Let’s dive into the life of Jonah for a hot minute.
Get it, “dive“??
Okay, moving on.

Jonah knew who the boss was.
Jonah knew what the boss had said to him.
Go to Nineveh.
Jonah got scared (that is NOTHING like my wonderfully adventureous child.)
But, it might be like you.

Because of Jonah’s fear, the first episode of “Man Vs. Wild” was birthed.
Man thought he new a better plan.
Jonah ended up on a ship to Tarshish.

Let’s take a quick commercial break because I think this is interesting and important to understand.
I believe that God uses EVERYTHING in the Bible to tell His story. EVERYTHING.

Tarshish has several derived meanings.
But Jonah was Hebrew.
And, in conversation, Tarshish (the city to which Jonah thought would have more promise), would relate to a Hebrew word rashash, which literally means TO BEAT DOWN OR SHATTER.
Put that in your back pocket.

So Jonah was on this ship to Tarshish, when a storm comes upon the ship.
All the other men on the ship were of different faiths and beliefs.
They all began to freak and call on their gods.

Jonah, with his Elcee mentality at its finest, mosies on down to the bottom of the ship (he’s cool, he’s got it all figured out) and is going to sleep through the storm.

How many of you want to just retreat and sleep through the storms in your life?
Maybe sometimes, storms come to remind us that we need to set sail TOWARDS our calling, and not from it. The storm, maybe, just maybe, is God’s way of turning your ship around.

Jonah’s attempts to snooze the storm away were in vain, because the others quickly found him and begged him to set this thing straight.

Can you imagine how crazy they must have sounded.
They didn’t believe in God.
They were praying to other gods and asking for mercy on them.
When that failed them, in the storm of their life, they turned to someone who had mentioned in casual conversation earlier in the day that he was running from his God.
God is using Jonah’s rebellion to get the attention of an entire boat full of men who did not know Him.
God is so cool.
And he uses EVERYTHING to tell His story.

Jonah, once again, had everything figured out, he thought.
Basically, he tells the others to kill him.
Becase if they threw him into the ocean,
God would know longer be mad and will calm the seas.

So many times we read this story and we have this undertone of disgust with God for having a whale swallow someone to get their attention via fear.
But put this into perspective.
At the moment that Jonah was thrown into the ocean and swallowed by a whale,
Jonah was not repenting out of a fear for being in the belly of a whale.
He was repenting out of a heart of gratitude for the Lord sparing him when he thought he wasn’t going to make it.

When Jonah thought he could do things “all on my own”, God BROKE AND SHATTERED those plans, because He was protecting Jonah, and the call on Jonah’s life.
And this is excactly (in a summed up version) what Jonah prayed that day in the belly of a whale.
Jonah had reached his desperate tone, “IT’S NOT WORKING”

And by the way, the men on the ship?
The ended up repenting for throwing Jonah into the sea,
and they became Christians that very day.
The Bible says “At this, the men greatly feared the Lord and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to Him.”

Just sitting here typing this,
I can think of probably fifteen things in the last few days that I have had a subconcious “I can do it all on my own” attitude about.
Truthfully, Jonah AND Elcee probably aint got nothing on me.
Well, at least Jonah doesn’t.

In this new year, as we draw circles around the promises of God,
Can we pray too that God shows us our Jonah mentalities,
Our Elcee mentalities?
And, I challenge you to continuously thank Jesus for the whales He has put in your life.
Reminding us of our purpose,
Reminding us of our dependence.
Reminding us of our insignificance apart from Him.
When Elcee reaches her moment of desperation, she will allow me to help her out of whatever debacle she has gotten herself into. But, only when she gets desperate.

And my prayer for you is that when we stumble into those traps of “I can do this all on my own” that you quickly reach the point of desparation with God, “It’s not working.”

What kind of beautiful messes has He brought you through?
Beautiful not because you are not in them any longer,
but because of what you learned in the belly of the mess.

Stay Tuned for Profound Thoughts,

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