I’m hard-pressed to think of a more unpleasant, unnatural, and un-human place to be than in the belly of a fish. This is the last place God ever intended his image-bearers to be. This is where Jonah ended up, however, when he simply refused to do what God was asking him to do; when he refused to have the conversation that God wanted him to have; when he refused to love his enemies (the Ninevites) the way God was commanding him.
We must learn from Jonah. There is a conversation God is calling his church to have as so many members of our society are crying out. There is a self-giving love that he requires of us. When we deafen our ears to what God’s asking of us, however, we fall into a dangerously deep sleep. We fall into a sleep that puts the people around us in danger. When we—like Jonah—sleep under the deck of the boat while the storm rages we lose our saltiness; we forfeit and willingly abandon our calling.
Thankfully, God will not simply allow his church to remain asleep. He will do whatever it takes to awaken his people to call them to task. For Jonah it took a lot to get his attention. It took ending up in the most unnatural, un-human place on the planet to turn Jonah around. It took all of this to get Jonah to understand that he didn’t have a monopoly on God’s grace. It took all of this to get Jonah to not presume upon the grace of God.
When we presume upon the grace of God the house of prayer becomes a den of thieves. One author explains what it means to presume on the grace of God this way:
The people of God were sinning grossly. But, rather than repenting, they figured that since they had the temple on their side, they were preserved from God’s judgment. The temple was a “den of thieves” in that it was supposed to be a safe place where the people could take refuge from God’s wrath, even if they were dishonoring him with their actions.https://www.theologyofwork.org/the-high-calling/daily-reflection/are-you-presuming-upon-god
Church, let us not end up in the belly of a fish because we fail to have a conversation that God wants us to have. Let us not be found asleep under the boat while the storm rages on because it’s just easier than living up to the calling that we have received.