I died and was resurrected. And there were days I wanted to die, but instead received reason to live. God has been constant in hearing my cries of despair, and in responding to my weak and muffled prayers. God has been faithful, even when I have not. And he has loved me with a perfect and everlasting love, when all I had to offer him were the shambles of a broken life. He has been my rescuer, and every day he is my protector. God is so good; may he be praised.
Reading on the resurrection this Easter, my studies carried me to the book of Jonah. For several days my eyes fixed on his words below — words that could just as easily belong to me, or you. Words of despair… yet filled with hope. A prayer preceding salvation… but certain of its coming. A plea for resurrection… while already engulfed in the process. In crying out to the One who can rescue, we’ve already entered the realm of forgiveness and healing, salvation and resurrection. A prayer in which we call out to God from within the deep recognition of our own inability is a prayer in which we are already receiving that for which we ask.
From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said:
“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.
From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.
You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me.
I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’
The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head.
To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God.
When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.
Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
Salvation comes from the Lord.”
And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
Jonah went in his new life to Ninevah. And 120,000 people (and a whole bunch of cows) were rescued from certain destruction.
On the third day, the tomb was empty and death was defeated. Mankind was offered right relationship with his creator, and a new life — life as it was intended.
My new creation looks back to see the broken pieces that once were my life. And then forward again… on the horizon I see a people God has reclaimed for his glory. They have been rescued from the depths, and now live in hope.
Those who have been rescued, rescue. New life brings new life. The resurrected lead others to resurrection. God be praised.