Teri Gegen Teri is the director of “Heartbeat”, the women’s ministry of Frontline Christian Center.
Nineveh, Jonah and the big fish
As I reflected on Nineveh, three stories jumped out at me. Nineveh, Jonah and the big fish all have their own individual stories to tell. Nineveh, whose citizens were wicked, repented and was saved from certain annihilation when Jonah preached God’s message to them only to fall back into their wicked ways many years later.
Jonah ran in the opposite direction of God’s call and nearly drowned after being thrown into the sea on the way to Tarshish. The book of Jonah says, “But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights,” illustrating that God’s idea of provision may be a little different from ours.
Jonah wisely repented after being swallowed by the big fish.
But, what about that big fish? I have been thinking about her so much that I have become fond of her and named her Grace. We hear sermons about Jonah and Nineveh all the time, but what about Gracie? We do not know much about her except that she was huge and she was obedient to God’s command. I think we can learn a thing or two about Grace from her adventure.
It could not have been too comfortable for Jonah inside that big fish stomach, which, as heartless as this sounds, was good for him. He was able to sit and be still and know that God is God and do what God had called him to do. Gracie couldn’t have been too comfy either. Imagine what it would be like to swallow something whole and have it rumble around in your tummy for three days and nights.
Then in Jonah, Chapter 2 we read, “And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” Poor Gracie! I am thinking that at the very least, she suffered indigestion in all of this. I wondered also, did she become beached? Did she die there on dry land? Or did God in His infinite mercy bring the waves crashing up to place His good and faithful servant into the water so that she could breathe again? We do not hear of her fate, but we do know she was obedient to His call.
Big Fish Leadership
Leadership is like this. Sometimes, like Gracie, we are called by God to do a task that causes us discomfort in order to help others. He is calling up leaders who are ready to come alongside someone in need and carry that sister or brother inside their bellies, so to speak, in order for God to accomplish His purpose.
Sometimes God’s call is a life-changing, heart wrenching request like putting your life on hold to help a loved one through their last illness. Sometimes it is just a small kindness like thoughtfully asking someone we don’t know or like too well into our little circle. It does not matter to God whether we, as His leaders, find our sister or brother unlovely, whether we like them or hold some sort of prejudice against them. In His grace, His love and favor, we are all precious in His sight.
Trusting His Agenda
Trust in God to work things out as He did through Gracie. God in His eternal perspective had individual plans within His great plan, for each of the participants in this story including my friend Gracie. Follow God, who not only is our Great Leader, but as
He tells us in Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Our Leader knows the future, has a plan of hope for you and will always be there for you.
Grace obediently put God’s agenda ahead of her own. It was by Grace, Jonah had been saved; God’s grace, that is. Just as it is by grace we have been saved . . . it is the gift of God . . . For we are God’s workmanship, (leaders), created in Christ Jesus to do good works, (lead), which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph 2:8&10.
Trust the Big Fish Plan (sometimes we are Jonah)
So, remember our sister Gracie the next time God places you in a “Jonah” position. I have to believe she felt much better after her part in God’s plan was finished. I have faith that God will not only touch other people’s lives through you, but that you will be a changed person “from glory to glory” and a more effective leader if you follow God’s “Big Fish Style” leadership plan for your life.
Q4U: Any suggestions on how to make it easier to carry the Jonah’s God has asked you to carry?