Day 22. JONAH DEEPER STILL

Read Jonah 1:17-2:10 Jonah died. He sank under the sea to the point where his eardrums thundered with pain, his lungs emptied of air, and his limbs stopped flailing in the agony of drowning. He went to a place of silence, cold darkness, tight bindings, then humid stench, torment, separation, and solitude in a Sea Monster’s belly!

What does it feel like to die? What’s it like to have the waters wash over you and to be swallowed by some nameless creature? Some never get the opportunity to assess that, death happens too quickly. When ‘The Father’s sentence of death’ is on your life, you may get to savour every nasty little moment of it. There are those who have known what it is to become food for monster sharks, monster snakes, anacondas and crocodiles, then lived to tell the tale. It’s an experience you’d never forget!

On Easter Sunday morning 1989, after a week of tummy troubles from a bad curry eaten in India a week before, I awoke to preach twice that day, anticipating a powerful baptismal service that night. By 7:45am I felt pains in my abdomen. Within 30 minutes, I was rolling in agony I’d never experienced in my life. Weeks in Intensive Care, bloated like ‘Michelin Man’ followed. My vital organs were dissolving away, burnt by enzymes spilt resulting from acute pancreatitis. I felt like Jonah in the fish, except this lasted six whole months. All this time I was engaged in a battle for my life. I wasted away to a skeletal frame, losing nearly 60lbs. Total helplessness and the haunting darkness of near-death stalked me. I vividly recall,

  • Losing grip on reality, in my battle with vivid, horrific hallucinations, induced by the morphine and pain-killers.
  • Looking with horror in the mirror, at the degraded, yellowed, possibly cancerous skeletal shaped shadow of my former self.
  • Seeing desperation in the faces of my horrified wife and tearful eyes three young sons all under nine years of age, apparently losing their Dad and making Mummy a widow.
  • Yet with a sure knowledge the Lord was with me every step of the way, until that long nightmare excursion to ‘The Valley of the Shadow of Death’ ended, and God arranged my ‘resurrection’. Twenty-four years of ministry have followed this.

Know that God works all things together for our good, and often for the saving of many lives. Ask his help to dignify every trial he sends.