We really wanted the kids to get a sense of what it was like to be in the belly of a fish for three days. So we decided to bring the story to life. As they set in a circle to hear the story we had Joann spray water in the air just enough for it to land on each of them as she talked about the storm. Jonah found himself in a storm while hiding on a boat. He knew the storm was because of his disobedience so he had the men throw him into the water. As she told the part of the story where Jonah gets swallowed by a big fish she hurried the kids under the blue tarp. It was dark and lonely for Jonah. In his loneliness Jonah reached out to God. He prayed! To finish, we passed around a can of tuna for the kids to sniff. With one quick sniff they got the point. Being in a belly of a fish was lonely, dark, gross and smelly. Jonah chose to run from God. However, he learned that you can never run so far that God can’t find you. Jonah repented from inside the fish and then was vomited on to dry land. Eww gross!!! God forgave Jonah and sent him on his way to Nineveh. Jonah obeyed this time. We might not be physically running from God but sometimes our hearts can be running. We grow distant when we stop talking to Him, reading His word and spending time with other believers. When we grow distant we stop listening to where He is trying to lead us. Just like Jonah. Sometime we hear Him speaking or nudging our hearts but like Jonah we don’t obey. Don’t allow yourself to get on the wrong boat, be thrown into the ocean, swallowed by a big fish and to top it off vomited on to dry land. Just listen to God the first time. Most importantly, know that you have not messed up too much to be forgiven and still used by God. He wants to use you. Where ever you are right now, reach out to God in prayer. You are not too hidden for God to hear you.
“Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish. He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me!” Jonah 2:1 NLT