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JONAH AND THE WHALE
Jonah was exhausted. It was foolish to think he could run away and hide from God. He had no rest since he was on the run. He had bought passage on a ship to Tar shish, when a mighty storm came and assailed the vessel. He had been fast asleep down below. By the time the captain woke him, the ship was about to be broken up. Jonah realized that the Lord God had sent the maelstrom because of him. He didn’t want innocent lives to be lost, so he told the captain to cast him into the sea. Sure enough, as soon as he hit the water, the storm ceased. The fish engulfed him shortly thereafter.
After three days and three nights, he was understandably in poor spirits. Just as his last shred of hope began to falter, he beheld a strange bluish light beside him. Dumbfounded, he watched with fascination, as it coalesced into the shape of a man, though not a man. The radiation of his presence illuminated the cavity with an unearthly glow.
“I’m your Guardian Angel”, he said simply. “My name is Smeadly.”
“Am I dead?” Jonah asked, confused.
“No”, Smeadly said. “The Lord God of heaven and earth prepared this fish which cast you into the deep, into the heart of the seas. He has sent me here to relieve your suffering.”
Jonah brightened up. “You’re here to get me out of here?”
“Well, no…” said Smeadly.
“If anyone can get me out of here, you can”, Jonah said with conviction.
“I’m not authorized to do that”, Smeadly said. That’s the first thing I checked on three days ago.”
“Well, could you double-check? I’ve changed a lot since then, you know. I’ve had a lot of time to repent. I was just so shocked that He wanted me to go to Nineveh to preach His word to the heathens. Their wickedness and evil ways are well known, and I was afraid to go there.” Jonah shivered, though not from the cold. “I have heard chilling tales about how they deal with strangers.”
Smeadly nodded sympathetically. “Heavenly Father will always open a way for His missions to be completed”, he said.
“If the gracious Lord God grants mercy unto me”, Jonah said, “I vow to be obedient from this day forward.”
“Don’t tell me; tell Him”, Smeadly said.
Jonah lifted his eyes toward heaven. “If I could just have one more chance”, he said, “I promise to be obedient. I give you my vow.” He paused. Smeadly regarded him silently.
The silence grew.
“What did He say?” Jonah asked.
“Nothing yet”, said Smeadly.
“Why? Is He thinking it over?” Smeadly said hopefully.
Smeadly cocked his ear, listening. “Did you hear Him?” he asked.
“No”, Jonah said.
“Me neither”, said Smeadly.
Jonah’s face drooped. “Maybe He can’t hear us from inside this fish”, Jonah ventured. “Maybe you could blink us out of hear and we can ask again.”
“I don’t think I’d better do that”, Smeadly said.
“Oh, it would just be for a few minutes”, Jonah said.
“No, I can’t do that.”
“What exactly do you mean by ‘can’t’?” Do you mean you’re not allowed to or you’re unable to?” Jonah drew closer to scrutinize his features. “Hey, wait a minute”, he exclaimed. “You said you’re an angel.”
“That’s right”, said Smeadly, “Your Guardian Angel. I’ve been with you all of your life”.
“If you’re a real angel, how come you don’t have wings?”
“Angels don’t need wings to fly”, said Smeadly.
“But the scriptures mention angels having wings”, said Jonah.
“Those are special angels, called Seraphim. Regular angels like me don’t have wings.”
“How come He sent me just a regular angel?” said Jonah. “This is a pretty serious situation I’m in.”
“See here”, Smeadly said, annoyed, “are you insinuating that I’m not good enough for this assignment?”
“Well, you don’t have wings, and you said yourself that you can’t get me out of here.”
“I didn’t mean it that way”, said Smeadly. “ I have to get authorization ahead of time.”
“Then what are you here for?” Jonah asked.
“I’m here to comfort you.”
“Are you sure He didn’t say anything about getting me out of here?”
“Not yet, anyway.”
“Well”, said Jonah, “when does the comforting part begin?”
“Don’t you feel comforted already?”
“A little, I guess.”
“What can I do to help you feel more comforted?”
“Well”, Jonah said, “I’m awfully tired of fighting this current. If I relax for even a moment, I get closer to this monster’s bowels. Can you make this current stop so I can rest?”
“Mmm, no, I can’t do that…”
“Can you create something for me to hang onto?”
“No…I can’t do that either.”
“Can you protect my skin from these acid juices?”
“I’m afraid not.”
Jonah wrestled himself out of the seaweed entangling him. “Can you give me some light, so I can see what slimy muck is floating around in here?”
“Can you give me fresh water to drink?”
“Can you keep this behemoth from swimming up and down so much? Make him swim level somehow?”
“How about the smell in here…can you do something about that?”
“More space to move around?”
“Jonah paused. “I really don’t know how to put this delicately…”
“What?” Smeadly said.
“I mean no offense…”
“What exactly did you mean by ‘comfort’?” Jonah said.
“My purpose is to lift your spirits from despair”, said Smeadly, “and to speak peace to your mind, and to deliver the message that God still loves you and has not forsaken you. He hears you, and you are in the hollow of His hand.”
“Oh, said Jonah, “that kind of comfort.” He managed a weak smile. “How long do I have to stay in here?”
“I don’t know.”
“What do you mean, you don’t know? Are you sure you’re an angel?”
“What else could I be?”
“You could be a figment of my imagination-- a hallucination. I might be delirious.”
“If so, you would be seeing me with wings”, Smeadly countered.
“Look”, Smeadly said, “at least I can help you get your mind off your afflictions for a short while. You’ve been feeling very down. I got authorization to keep you company.”
“Yes, thank you”, said Jonah. “I do appreciate that.”
“Why don’t we just talk for a while”, said Smeadly. “It’s not every day a person gets to meet his Guardian Angel.”
“What are you really doing here?” asked Jonah. “Am I about to die?”
“I don’t know”, said Smeadly.
“What do you mean, you don’t know?”
“I’m not sure yet.”
“Well, can you ask?” Jonah said.
“He has preserved your life thus far”, said Smeadly. “Surely He spares you for a reason.”
“For what reason?” Jonah asked.
“I’m not sure.”
“I was right…you’re a hallucination.”
“No I’m not. Let’s talk about something else.”
“Alright”, Jonah said. “If you don’t need wings to fly, why do Seraphim?”
“I’m not sure…”
“I knew you were going to say that.”
“No”, said Smeadly. “I meant that I’m not sure how to answer that. You see, Seraphim are a special type of angel. They have very important assignments. It’s complicated; it would take a long time to explain.”
“I’ve got time,” Jonah said, “don’t I?”
“As far as I know.”
“Well”, said Jonah, “since you are my Guardian Angel, why did you wait until now to appear to me? I’ve been here a long time.”
Smeadly said, “Prime Directive: Guardian Angels shall not interfere with the free agency of their wards.”
“You could have at least warned me about all this.”
“I tried to”, Smeadly said. “I couldn’t get your attention.”
“Well, next time”, said Jonah, “you have my permission to get my attention by any means necessary. That is, if there is a next time.”
Smeadly cocked his ear again, listening.” Jonah strained to hear. “Evidently”, said Smeadly, “there will be a next time.” He gave Jonah a wink and a smile; then he was gone.
Before Jonah could respond, the fish began to pitch and lurch violently. The next thing he knew, the fish vomited him onto dry land. He fell to his knees immediately and poured out his heartfelt gratitude to God.
After a brisk swim in the sea, he felt revitalized and his spirits soared. Smeadly was nowhere to be seen, but Jonah knew he was not alone.
He looked around and got his bearings. Nineveh was not far away. He sensed Smeadly’s gentle touch of inspiration: “Convert the king.” Without waiting for his clothes to dry, he marched off towards the infamous city.
One thing was for certain; no one would believe this fish story about the one that got away!”