Skip to main content

The Belly of the Whale

"For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights." - Matthew 12:40

Jonah was on a boat fleeing from his task when the storm struck.  When it was clear the storm would tear the boat apart, the members of the crew gathered together to try and figure out what to do.  Jonah knew he was at fault and he knew that everyone's lives were in danger because of his choices.  He told them to do what he could not.  He told them to throw him overboard.  They resisted, but after he insisted they complied.  The storm ended and the boat and crew were saved, but Jonah was swallowed by a great fish.  This terrible situation is where we get the saying "in the belly of the whale".  

In the Hero's Journey, this is often placed at the beginning of the great trials.  In the story of Jonah, we are told that he was in the belly of the great fish for three days.  In that place of darkness, he found the courage to do what he had been called to do, and then he was spit out on the shore to continue his journey.  For Jonah, this was a place of transformation.  This story represents the dark place of our internal being when we face difficulty on our adventure and the transformation that comes after.  Jesus recalled this story as he approached the cross.  He remembered that Jonah was in the darkness for three days, but afterward, he came out a new person.  This story gave Christ strength as he prepared for the darkness of the tomb before his own transformation.  

Last week we looked at the first threshold where the Hero takes the first physical step beyond their normal world, but this stage is calling for the internal to match the external.  These are the times in our lives where we are physically on the journey, but our minds and hearts are not in it.  Sometimes it takes a place of darkness and despair to align our minds and hearts with our embodied reality.  

Take a moment today to reflect on the places where your mind and heart have not yet aligned with your embodied reality.  If you notice any grief or shame there, be gentle with yourself and understand that this is part of the process.  Celebrate the fact that you are doing hard things and trust that your heart and mind will get there soon.  Know that this darkness is a cocoon, a place of great transformation.    

God, help us to align our hearts and minds with our embodied reality.  Give us strength and courage for the journey.  Help us to endure.  Lift us up when we are weak.  Use every tear and every moment of suffering to prepare us for the new self you are creating in us.  Let us be new creatures, made new and formed by your hand.  Amen. 


Popular posts from this blog

Death Will Lose it's Sting

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 1 Corinthians 15:51-57. In these verses, Paul reveals a mystery, that in the end some will be transformed, given a new body, instead of facing death.  In other words death is not one of life's two certain terms.  It seems taxes may be the only guarantee.   " this world nothing can be said to be certain, except  death and taxes ." - Benjamin Franklin. Ok, all jokes aside, these verses are difficult to read.  Paul looks forward to a time when death will have no victory, it will have lost its sting.  But today, we are in the middle of a pandemic, surrounded by death.  Many are scared for their lives, or their loved ones, and too many have already been lost.  Death does not seem to have lost its sting at all, it feels as if it is closing in. When I worked in wilderness therapy I remember holding a child who was desperately trying to kill himself.  We cried together as he struggled to end it, and I struggled

Fool for Christ

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 2 Corinthians 5.  Verse 13 stood out to me. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. - 2 Corinthians 5:13a (NLT) John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard churches did a famous sermon called "I am a fool for Christ, whose fool are you?".  Reading this week's text reminded me of this wonderful sermon.  Wimber's sermon reminds us that, as christians, we are called to something truly radical.  The christian walk is strange and counter cultural.  Jesus once explained this to his disciples in John 15 "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. You don't belong to this world, I have chosen you out of it.  That is why the world hates you."   Peter, in a letter to the church, later referred to all of us as strangers just passing through this world.   Do you feel like a stranger?  Do you feel like the world hates you?  Are you a fool for Christ? Here is the thing, you are going t

Looking Back?

"Remember Lot’s wife!  "   -  Luke 17:32 This is one of the shortest verses in the Bible.  Jesus was talking about the terrible circumstances that will be present when he comes back.  He was warning people that they would not see it coming.  People will be going about their business and then suddenly, without warning, chaos will take over.  People will need to flee, and he warns them not to go back for their possessions, for anything.  This is where he says "Remember Lot's wife!".  In desperation he pleads with them to remember the fate of this woman.  To his listeners it would bring to mind the story of Lot and his family fleeing the destruction of Sodom.  They too were warned not to go back for anything, not to even look back, but Lot's wife did look back.  And when she did, she turned into a pillar of salt.   Metaphorically speaking this is often what happens when we look back.  We get frozen in place and we cease moving forward.  I have a childhood frie