Dr. John E. Johnson

Dr. John E. Johnson
Blog, Life Issues

In the Belly of the Fish

In all of this strangeness–in truly uncharted territory–one cannot but wonder if God has suddenly imposed upon the world a necessary Sabbath rest of sort. Stores, restaurants, and services are closing by the minute. Could it be God is inviting us to replace hurry and activity with needed sanctuary and silence?

It feels a bit like Jonah’s life. One minute, we are full of plans and professional activity We are bound for our own Tarshish, the next venture and all of its promises. The following moment, we find ourselves tossed into the belly of the whale, where things are more confined and restrictive–and somewhat dark.

It’s not easy. Our culture is not used to restraints.

But this involuntary moment just might prove to be a centering moment. Disasters often serve as advances in spirituality. As Peterson puts it in his book, Under the Unpredictable Plant,  “confinement turns into concentration, illusion transmutes into hope, death changes to resurrection.

We might look back, like Jonah, to recall that a season in this confined space allowed for more ordered prayer. A renouncement of idols. Here we have the opportunity to move from a preoccupation with self to a better preoccupation. From compulsive pursuits to a slower pace. 

Such a season has the potential to generate and release an enormous amount of energy into the world–“the enlivening energy of God’s grace rather than the enervating frenzy of our pride.” Once the crisis passed, Jonah missed this grace. The opportunity to be a different man. Hopefully, we will not.


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