Can I Come In?

Little five year old boys don’t usually want to play with girls putting on makeup – unless it is boring because there are no other boys around. That changes everything. At least it did for Jude, my grandson. My four granddaughters had locked themselves in the... read more

My Mother’s Christmas Wish

Devotion: When I was a little girl, the number one question I asked all my family before December 25th was “What do you want for Christmas?” I asked my sisters and my brother, my mother and my father. It was a huge question for me because my funds were limited to a small... read more

The Time Out Lesson

“But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.” Jonah 1:17 (NIV)

My kids hated time out when they were little and got into trouble. To be honest, I think it was as much for me as it was for them. Love my kids? Passionately with every ounce in my body. Protect them if someone tried to hurt them? Like a seven foot tall gorilla with a stun gun.
But when they could not handle a situation themselves without falling apart or attacking each other, a time out seemed like the perfect answer. They could sit down and I could calm down.
I remember a few of the many reasons for assigning a time out through the years: when my son attempted to sweep up his sister in the vacuum. And when my daughters tried to darken their bedroom by putting a blanket over a light bulb and caused a fire.
Almost every time they received a time out, it served as a punishment for not obeying our rules at home. But I also reminded them that this was a perfect opportunity to think about what they had done and what they could do differently the next time. There was always a lesson to learn in each time out.
Today’s Key Scripture in Jonah 1:17 talks about someone else who was in time out but he wasn’t sitting on a kitchen chair thinking about his choice. He was in the belly of a whale. And it wasn’t a mom who had put him there but God.
His name was Jonah. And he had been given a specific directive by God. “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” (verse 2) But Jonah did not want to obey. Perhaps he knew about their idol worship and cruelty to prisoners of war and didn’t want to go near the people who lived there. Or maybe he just didn’t trust God to take care of him.
No matter the reason, Jonah didn’t obey and God quickly gave him a time out to think about his poor choice – by allowing him to be swallowed by a whale.
Now, can I just say here that one gulp and I think I would have been a believer and confessed my disobedience to God? I’m sure I would have. And Jonah, from the whale guts, probably prayed immediately to God and repented, thanking Him for saving his life and vowing to do exactly what God had asked him to do in the first place, by preaching to the people of Nineveh.
However God, in His infinite wisdom, allowed Jonah to sit a bit longer in time out to learn an important lesson: when God says “go,” you go. Jonah needed to be obedient to God’s directing.
He also needed to understand that in His mercy and forgiveness, the Lord had provided for him and answered his prayer to save his life.
In verse 10 we read that God commanded the whale to spit Jonah out on dry land so that he could immediately do what he should have done in the first place: preach the message of God’s destruction to the people of Nineveh if they did not repent.
Have you ever experienced a time out from God? Perhaps you didn’t find yourself on a kitchen chair and hopefully not in the belly of a whale!
Maybe the Lord prompted you to write a note or visit an elderly neighbor or buy groceries for the person in line ahead of you but you ignored that nudge.
I encourage you to listen to the Lord speaking to your heart and to obey. He is faithful to His children. But if needed, He will use a time out.

Father, I want to listen and obey but sometimes I’m like Jonah. Thank you for your mercy and forgiveness and patience. And for giving me another opportunity to do exactly as you direct. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Have you ever felt the Lord nudging you to do something but you chose to ignore the Spirit and make a totally different choice? Did you find yourself in a period of time out after that?

Write on a note card “Is this from you, God?” and put it in your purse. When you feel a nudge to help someone, glance at the card and ask God that simple question. Follow His guidance.

Jonah 1:17 (NIV) “But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.”

Psalm 46:10 (NIV) “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 62:5 (NIV) “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.”

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Copyright 2013  Nancy E. Hughes