Jim Lyons and company are currently serving in The Holy Land, so Jay Harvey spoke to us today. Jay Harvey is a comedian who founded the GOOF Principle. Click his name to see his website. Here is his book's cover:
Through Jay's sermon I learned about Jonah and the Whale. I remember the Bible story from my childhood; it was a favorite, though I didn't fully understand the point until today.
Here is the 101 on Jonah: for the majority of his life he was a good servant to the Lord, but one time Jonah went against the Lord and disobeyed; in fact, he fled the Lord and boarded a ship headed away from God. The price for his disobedience was death, and a brutal storm blew across the sea Jonah sailed on. The other men on the ship prayed to their respective gods, but soon learned that Jonah was to blame for the angry sea storm. Upon this realization the men hurled Jonah into the sea, and a great fish swallowed him up.
This is the point is where I learned the story for its true meaning. As a child I thought God sent the whale to swallow Jonah as a punishment; this is inaccurate. Jonah's true punishment, as I wrote earlier, was death. But God is merciful. God sent the fish to provide Jonah a time during which he could repent his sins and return to the Lord.
From the belly of the whale Jonah prayed to God, seeking forgiveness of his sins. Here is an oil painting on canvas of Jonah praying from the belly of the whale:
After hearing Jonah's prayer, God commanded the fish to free Jonah. I thought this was a really neat piece of art; I like the fish. Another thing I like about the image is that the horrid storm is in the background, no longer present:
Jay took an interesting look at this story. Jay said, basically, that our hardships are acts of mercy from God. It is during these tough times that God is putting us in a fish to save us. When we totally surrender ourselves to Him, we are set free.
That takes me back to Jay's book about the GOOF Principle. It is this:
Get over yourself
Own your mess
Forgive yourself (of mistakes, not the original sin)
To note something else Jay said today, he said he wanted to be a weak Christian. It seems backwards at first, but really it's not. A strong Christian is bound for trouble, if they think they have it figured out and all this. Eventually they will need to apply the GOOF Principle to their life. However, a weak Christian implies that they are continually surrendering themselves to God.
The last thing I have to say about today's sermon regards part of the opening prayer. The speaker mentioned having a heart of rock turned into a heart of flesh. At first I thought that was a silly thing to say. Obviously it's not meant in a literal way, these things never are, but still, rock to flesh? It seems obvious now, but at first I was puzzled for an unknown reason. Then it donned on me. Inherently we have hearts of stone. Cold, sinful rock-hard hearts. It isn't until we let go of everything in our lives, until we surrender our everything, until we put our full trust in the Lord - only then will we have hearts of flesh, hearts that are truly alive.
PS - The Newsboys have a funky, "GOOFy" song about Jonah called "In the Belly of the Whale." Click the title to see the songs' lyric.