This is an image from the story of Jonah. It is at the time when Jonah has been cast into the sea by his fellow travelers, believing that he is the cause of the storm that is about to destroy them. Those travelers peer over the bow of the boat viewing from a safe distance, watching to see what will happen. Jonah, eyes shut and resigned to his fate, is confronted by the fish.
Excerpts from “Under the Unpredictable Plant” by Eugene Peterson
The first movement in this story shows Jonah’s disobedience; the second shows him obedient. Both times Jonah fails. We never do see a successful Jonah. He never gets it right. I find this rather comforting. Jonah is not a model to live up to, a model that shows up my inadequacies, this is training in humility. In both movements in Jonah's life, the disobedient and the obedient, God used him to save the people. God works his purposes through who we actually are, our rash disobedience and our heartless obedience, and generously uses our lives as he finds us to do his work.
The storm is all encompassing and unmanageable - if the storm sets the condition in which these stories take place, prayer is the essential action.
Storm Metaphor - Trouble, at least extreme trouble strips us to the essentials and reveals the basic reality of our lives. In the storm we are reduced to what is elemental, and the ultimate elemental is God. Storm is the environment in which we either lose our lives or are saved.
Once the storm hits, Jonah is out of control. The storm either exposes the futility of our work as in Jonah or confirms it as in Paul.
Jonah is turned back from his disobedience by the sea storm and then rescued by the great fish.
The belly of a fish is a place of confinement, a tight restricted place. Confinement… I find I am capable of attending to the actuality of the present. This life just as it is.
Quarreling with God is a timed-honored biblical practice – God doesn’t behave the way we expect.
Spiritual direction makes no distinction between religious and secular. It is as ready to spot God in the supermarket as in the pew. A remark by a child can carry as much immediate weight as an oracle in Isaiah.
I need to enter into the reality that is already God in and around me.
Reflection > Listening to God, Confinement, the Storm