“Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly, And said, I cried by reason (because) of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.”Jonah 2:1-3
We were meeting for group time one night at Freedom That Lasts and our pastor joined us. In our group is a man who attends pretty faithfully, even though he does not always come on time. He struggles with some besetting sins, which is not unusual for those who attend. We all have sins that we struggle with, but God desires for us to have the victory through Him. We were taking turns sharing how God was working in our lives and our struggles for the week when this man shared how he was struggling with some besetting sins in his life. Our pastor listened intently to what this man was saying. He let him finish and then he gave him some advice that took him by surprise.
He listened to his struggles and told him that he could turn it around that very night. He told him he could be right with God at this very moment if he chose to be. The man tried to explain how he was in sin, and he acted like he did not hear what the pastor was saying. He did not fully understand that he could confess his sins immediately and restore his relationship with God. He just assumed he would need to make all these changes and clean himself up first, and he did not realize God would do all of the cleaning in his life. It is like some who feel the need to get in shape in order to go to the gym, instead of going to the gym to get in shape. People often do this when it comes to church, and feel they have to be 100 percent right before they go, instead of going to get things right.
We often think we have to go through several steps in order to get right with God, but we just need a contrite and repentant heart. We can make things right with God at any time and at any place even it that means the belly of a whale. We do not need to wait days or months or years to make things right. The prodigal son realized his sinful condition and longed for home. He did not clean himself up on the outside, but he immediately went to make things right and clean up the issues of his heart.
Jonah realized he did not have to wait to be back on shore to make things right with God, but he could do this even in the middle of the whale’s belly. I am sure life in the belly of a whale is quite miserable and it often takes difficult circumstances in order for us to see our sinful condition. When things are going “well” we fail to see the misery of sin, but once the consequences arise, we see the misery of our sin and realize the father of lies has deceived us once again.
Where are you today friend? Are you waiting to make things right with God? What is it going to take? Will you wait until you are afflicted beyond despair or in the belly of hell? Will you lay awake with the despair of sin or will you make things right with Him now? God is always at the same place where you left Him last, and He will be there when you decide to return to Him. He is unmovable and unchanging, and He will restore us back to Himself when we cry out to Him. Will today be the day? Don’t wait another moment.