ESSAY-LIKE SUNDAY MORNING: Today’s lesson was vividly elucidated by our teacher Sister Johnson. The lesson was entitled “WHEN CALAMITY COMES”. The Scripture was from Jonah 1:7-17. The KEY VERSE was verse 10a which reads, “This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?”
The story of Jonah is well known to us. Jonah was a prophet who was given a command to go to a city called Nineveh and deliver a message to them to “REPENT”. Jonah didn’t want to go. He had no love for the people of Nineveh. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian empire. Jonah’s hate for the people of Nineveh stemmed from the fact that the Assyrian people had conquered Israel approximately 200 years before and had treated the Israelite people badly.
Rather than go to Nineveh to preach to the hated Assyrians, Jonah chose to run from God, but as the old axiom goes, “You can run but you can’t hide” especially from God! Jonah found out how true this little axiom is. So, Jonah ran from the city of Joppa to the city of Tarshish, trying to hide. God found him and told him to get on up and go! So, Jonah reluctantly got up and went.
Jonah boarded a ship headed to Nineveh. While Jonah slept in the ships hold, a major storm arose. The ship’s sailors said to one another, “Let’s get to the bottom of this. Let’s draw straws to identify the culprit on this ship who’s responsible for this disaster.” Jonah got the short straw, consequently, he was forced to confess his sins. He knew he was guilty so he implored them to toss him over the side of the ship. As soon as they tossed him overboard, the storm ceased. But, Jonah didn’t drown. God sent a huge fish to swallow him. Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.
In all of our lives, storms will come. So far, man has not developed a method for preventing storms from forming. However, man has made huge technological leaps in the area of weather forecasting. Weather forecasting has come a long way since the days we relied upon whether or not Doug Wallace—our local T.V. weatherman—caught the chalk that he’d tossed into the air. Now, with radar and satellite information, our weather men and women can give us advance warning of approaching storms. Using this information, we can then make informed decisions about whether to move from the storm’s path or take shelter. But when the “storms of life” come, we don’t always have a warning. Sometimes they just happen.
It is good to be prepared, but sometimes, all of the preparation in the world will not save you from the “storms of life”. Sometimes no matter how far you move, you cannot get out of the on-coming storm’s path. Sometimes no shelter or help is nigh. Oh, and by the way, storms happen to “good Christian folks” as well as “sinners”. In those instances, you need a fish! Jesus is the fish. He’ll carry us safely through the storm and place us on solid ground. When those unexpected “storms of life” come rolling into our lives we need to fall down on our knees and pray like Jonah did.
A man was driving through west Texas one evening. The road was deserted and he had not seen a soul for hours. Suddenly, his car started to sputter and the engine died, leaving him sitting by the side of the road, in the waning orange light, of the Texas sunset. He popped the hood in anxious desperation. As he stood looking at the gradually fading light of his flashlight, he cursed that he had not put in new batteries.
Suddenly, through the inky shadows, came a deep voice: “It’s your fuel pump.” “Who said that?” the man called out. There were two horses, a black horse and a white one, standing in the fenced field alongside the road. The man was amazed when the black horse repeated, “It’s your fuel pump. Tap it with your flashlight and try it again.” Confused, the man tapped the fuel pump with his flash light, turned the key and sure enough, the engine roared to life. He muttered a short thanks to the horse and screeched away.
When he reached the next town, he ran into the local bar. “Gimme a large whiskey, please!” he said. A rancher sitting at the bar looked at the man’s ashen face and asked, “What’s wrong, man? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” “It’s unbelievable,” the man said and recalled the whole tale to the rancher.
The rancher took a sip of his beer and stared thoughtfully at his glass. “A horse, you say? Was it by any chance a black horse?” “Yes, it was!” the man said, finally happy that someone understood. “Am I crazy?” “No, you ain’t crazy. In fact, you’re lucky,” said the rancher, “because that white horse don’t know nothin’ about cars.”
When the “storms of life” come, don’t despair. Worry about nothing but pray about everything. God will send you a fish, or a horse, or whatever it is you have need of.