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How NOT to Get Swallowed Up

A camper rock climbing

When we touch a hot pan on the stove, the burn is discipline enough to remind us to get a hot pad next time without being told! That’s just it…sometimes consequences (not long lectures – I’m looking in the mirror here!) are the best discipline and ways of teaching our kids the way that’s right. It’s always God’s way.


Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.

Jonah 1:17


The story of Jonah and the whale is a very odd bed time story.  It is a tragic story of disobedience and the consequences that follow.   Jonah is having a hard time obeying … so God put him in a very fishy type of time out.   “Go to Ninevah,” God says.  “No”, replies Jonah as he steps onto a boat in a stormy sea.  He knew he was not obeying and even was bold enough to let his shipmates know.  So off the boat he is thrown and into the belly of a big, big fish for three days.  Yuck.   That is some kind of time out!    I didn’t catch the meaning of this fish tale until after the bedtime rituals had passed.   It never occurred to me that Jonah acted in disobedience and discipline was put into action.  

I am surprised that I didn’t see the correlation until I was older … my nickname could have been Jonah.  “Did you clean your room?”  No.  “Alright, no movie for you.”  

“Did you study?”  Yes, I mean no.   The grades told all.

“Finish Strong.”  But “that opportunity” looks better.  Until I miss both due to poor planning.

Our actions will have consequences … sometimes they are discipline and sometimes they are blessings.

How do we set our sails to move toward the blessings?

  1. Obey.  It will be hard … but it will be worth it.  Do what is expected or asked of us.  When we are struggling to do the right thing, ask for help. 
  2. Learn.  When the wrong action is taken and walking the plank is imminent, learn from the discipline.  While sitting in our time out from life, take time to study how we could have done it differently. Decide what we will do better next time.  Our God is the God of grace and second chances.  Learn from our mistake.
  3. Check.  Check our heart.  Jonah went on to Ninevah, physically, but his heart was still not in total obedience to God.  When God gave grace to the country Jonah thought He would destroy … Jonah pouted.   When we pout, we put ourselves in time out.   And we lose out on God’s best.

We are selfish people.  At least I am.  And so was Jonah.  He simply didn’t want to do the right thing and he paid the price.  I have done the same thing many times and have been disciplined by the way things turned out.   By the grace of God, we can do the right thing too … and reap the benefits of God’s goodness.  

Choose to think past what we want … and choose what God is asking us to do.  No one will be disappointed … or stuck in the belly of a whale.

Camper Corner

  • What do you think it was like for Jonah for those three days in the fish…the sights, the sounds, the smells, the?
  • Minus the slime,  do you feel like Jonah (you’re taken out of the normal routine of life) when you make a wrong decision?
  • Is it easy or hard to learn from your mistakes?

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