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Day 17—Monday, March 4

Jonah 2:7-10

“As my life was ebbing away, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. Those who worship vain idols forsake their true loyalty. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Deliverance belongs to the Lord!” Then the Lord spoke to the fish, and it spewed Jonah out upon the dry land.

When I was a kid and heard the story of Jonah I always thought “Poor Jonah! He got eaten up by a fish – Yuck!” I think the operative in this childlike response is the “Yuck!” because through the years I have found that it is predominantly the Yuck! in life that ends up making the biggest difference. Jonah could have chosen to give up, take the punishment God gave him and let nature take its course and be a fish dinner – but he didn’t do that. Jonah chose to turn back to the God whom he had disobeyed and ask forgiveness, ask for a second chance to do what he had avowed in the first place.

Often we are faced with a Yuck! that is seemingly a disaster in the works but ends up being a blessing in disguise because we had faith and turned the Yuck! over to God. Many years ago, after a decade of working in private industry, I was “downsized” – let go because my services were no longer deemed essential to the operation. Talk about a Yuck! Not only was my professional ego crushed, but my livelihood had been stripped away. I truly felt like I had been swallowed by a fish – life was dark and smelly. After weeks of angst, I fabricated a plan forward that involved a total career change in a brand new city – and I put it in God’s hands.

I can’t say the process of being metaphorically spewed up by a fish onto the dry land was easy or straightforward, but I did feel God directing my decisions as I flailed my way out. I found Roanoke to be a beautiful city with the right balance of nature and culture, I found the Raleigh Court neighborhood fertile for nourishing my new home roots, I found RCPC for meaningful worship, but best of all, I found YOU – a collaboration of humanity within which I felt I could thrive.

It’s only been with this devotional assignment that I have reflected on this Yuck! experience of mine through the lens of the Old Testament God. I’ve always thought of the Old Testament God as being perpetually angry, but in this story, the Lord is helpful and compassionate – a foreshadowing of the loving God that we come to know through the teachings of Jesus. This God recognizes that Yuck! is a part of everyone’s lives. This God spews you into the midst of your fellow Yucked-upon brothers and sisters, where the experience of being part of humankind can be shared and enjoyed.

God of wisdom and kindness, thank you for guiding us through the Yuck! of our lives. Amen. 

-Lillian Alexander


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