As the days grew longer and my belly bigger, I began to marvel at this life growing inside of me. Crammed in this watermelon-shaped space were two little legs that would find the need to stretch, revealing just how tight my skin had pulled across my belly. Little fists and elbows used my insides like a punching bag, and Matt and I would look with amazement as one side of my stomach would bounce in and out in its quick rhythm.
And during this time, I wondered what it felt like to live as this developing fetus, crammed into a dark space, living every day rolled up in a little ball amidst warm water and the constant sounds of the mother’s heart beating, her voice echoing to down below. Frankly, to this claustrophobic lady, the concept seemed terrifying, yet we know that babies don’t enter the world with a mind full of phobias–they don’t want to be dropped or experience loud noises–but beyond those two conditions, they are at peace.
I’m always amazed where my mind travels during a sermon at church. As we were studying the story of Jonah, and the pastor was describing Jonah’s anxiety at finding himself in the dark belly of a fish, my mind traveled to when I was pregnant and recalled the three different times I pushed babies from within the darkness of my belly to the light of a new world.
In the story of Jonah, Jonah disobeys God and tries to flee from his calling but, instead, finds himself trapped inside a giant fish. The first time we see this prophet pray is when his anxiety is at an all-time high, when he has no where else to look but up:
The engulfing waters threatened me,[b]
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, LORD my God,
brought my life up from the pit. (Jonah 2:5-6, New International Version, 2010)
Like Jonah, we have experiences in our life that bring us to the height of anxiety. Our anxiety over our jobs or lack of jobs in a tough economy, anxiety over parenting and rebellious children, anxiety over secrets in our marriages–all of these anxieties squeeze out our breath, leave us feeling like we are trapped in a small, dark place with no way out.
And my pastor pointed out that these times of anxiety in our life are a signal for us to communicate with God, a time to get on our knees in prayer and share our worries with Him.
But my mind kept traveling to the image of the developing baby, also in a small, dark place. This baby, kept in its warm home for the perfect amount of time until his fingers and toes are developed, his eyes ready to take in those first fuzzy images of the mother ready to hug him close into her bosom, his lungs ready to take its first breath outside in the new world–this baby who undergoes a traumatic ordeal to leave its small, dark home for a wide-open space. Yet this baby enters the world without fear.
While Jonah lay trapped in the belly of the fish, he grew. He learned there was no escaping the will of God, and he learned who is sovereign. And, perhaps, we are kept in our own dark spaces so that we, too, can grow. And we will grow, and we will learn until we can look up with peace at that wide-open space on the other side, trusting that we have a Father waiting to hold us close to His chest, whisper softly in our ear, a Father from whose arms we will never fall.
Linking up with Michelle today. What’s your giant fish?