The life of Jonah has been on my mind a lot as of late. (Probably because I’ve been listening to this great podcast on it.)
Specifically, I’ve been thinking about how much grace God showed to Jonah.
Grace that Jonah didn’t see as grace.
Grace that Jonah didn’t ask for.
Grace that smelled…like puke.
God tells Jonah to preach to Nineveh. Jonah declines. Runs (sails?) away on a boat. Storm comes. Jonah tries to kill himself. God’s grace intervenes.
Jonah spends the next three days in the belly of a giant fish.* And then the fish vomits him up like cheap takeout after an oyster binge.
Just another day in the life of a prophet, amiright? Here’s what I haven’t been able to get out of my mind about this story.
How much Jonah stinks. Literally.
He must have smelled like puke walking into Nineveh.
You can’t ditch that “chillin’ in the belly of a fish for three days” stench with a quick scrub down by the sea. I know.
I used to work at the Westside Market. Much of its allure is the meat butchering that happens on site. Which is cool when you’re just visiting. But, after an 8-hour shift, I smelled like I had crawled inside a tauntaun. A tauntaun marinated in a landfill.
Even after showering, the stench stained my nose for hours.
My bet? As Jonah walked through Nineveh with his message, everything smelled like the belly of that fish to him. Including himself.
I’m sure people noticed, too. Jonah probably got a few sideways glances from others in the city, his aroma swirling around him like the rings of Saturn.
With each breath (and whisper) Jonah would remember the putrid, stanky, nasty place he came from.
A place stained by grace.
Which leads me to you, friend.
(Hard left coming.)
What’s putrid in your life right now?
What has the stench of death?
What is vomit inducing?
Is it a relationship ending?
Is it a career change?
Is it an empty home?
Is it a dark night of the soul?
Maybe it’s actually God’s chosen method meant to carry you to the place you were always meant to be.
Maybe it’s puke scented grace.
soli deo gloria
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*According to Tim Mackie (podcast guy I’ve been listening to) the Hebrew likens it to more of a sea monster, rather than a fish. You can catch that podcast, here.