I think this verse pretty much sums up the entire story of Jonah - or at least the part of the story that everyone knows. I almost skipped over it. Of course Jonah got swallowed by the big fish.
But then I paused.
Did you ever have “one of those days?” You wake up in some kind of mysterious mood. You don’t mean to, but you bark at the kids to brush their teeth and start snapping at them that they haven’t even made their bed yet. Never mind that they are still in the process of brushing their teeth.
When I have one of those days, it often takes me quite some time before I realize what I was doing. When (hopefully not if!) I see it, I put myself in a time out. I remove myself to a bedroom or to another corner of the house so that I can make some kind of assessment and repair the situation.
For this, it’s usually something simple like drinking water, making sure I actually drank my cup of coffee, or maybe making an important phone call that is weighing on my mind. Often times, I just need to make sure I get more sleep later that night.
But sometimes, I’m irritable for other reasons. Maybe I’ve been too tired and have let my morning prayer time go by the wayside. Or maybe it’s been too long since I’ve visited the confessional.
In either case, I’ve brought the storm with me. And to calm the waves, I need to jump into the water. I need to pray and make time for the confessional. And in both instances, I find that once I stop and take a step in the other direction, it feels like a load has come off my shoulders. I need only to crack the door for grace so that it can work in my life.
And so it is with Jonah. He’s run away from God and, thus, from life. But there’s something about proclaiming “I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” It’s like opening the door to grace again, cooperating with it.
God rescues Jonah from the sea. He, as Chesterton’s Father Brown puts it, “caught him, with an unseen hook and an invisible line which is long enough to let him wander to the ends of the world, and still to bring him back with a twitch upon the thread.”
Is there a place in your life right now where you have closed the door to grace? Why have you closed the door? Is it just time, or are you hiding? God’s mercy is waiting. Will you open the door to let his grace in? Will you let him bring you back with a twitch upon the thread?