Having only recently arrived at seminary, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be follow God’s call. Yesterday, I had a story-telling class in which I offered an unconventional perspective of a familiar story about a call from God…
It was three in the morning when the LORD called out to me.
Yes? This is Dag Gadol…who is this? What do you want from me?
Who is this? Is this the LORD?
I remembered that when God calls, even when it’s late, the best response is: “Speak LORD, your servant listens.”
But what I actually said was, “It’s three in the morning! Please come back another time.”
The voice replied:
I am the LORD your God. I require your service at this time. I need you to save a man from his own undoing.
Me? Save a man? Why me?
In great despair, he has cast himself into the deep void. You alone can save him! He is trying to die, to pass into Sheol, the vast underworld.
I don’t understand…what am I to do?
You must go to this man as he flounders and catch him before he hits bottom. You must stop him, and hold onto him fast. Then, be still and wait for the LORD your God.
So, I set off.
I swam with an urgency I’d never known before. I knew intuitively where to go; God had left me with this vision. I streamlined through the water, taking in deep breaths through my gills. Suddenly, I saw him tumbling through the water, arms flailing to no avail, sinking, falling, drowning into the deep.
I opened my great mouth, and swallowed him whole, that he might find oxygen and warmth in my great belly–for I am Dag Gadol–“Great Fish”–and God has summoned me to follow and swallow this man, that he may swallow his pride and begin to follow his God.
For three days this man said nothing to me. We waited for the LORD–I waited patiently, but he was very agitated. I could feel him moving about: crying, pacing, fidgeting, yelling. Finally, he began to speak–but not to me:
“I called out to the LORD out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice…
The waters closed in over me;
the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped around my head at the roots of the mountains…
O LORD my God.
As my life was ebbing away,
I remembered the LORD;
And my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple…
I, with the voice of thanksgiving,
will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
Deliverance belongs to the LORD!”
I could sense that this man was finally at peace, that he had finally surrendered that which he could no longer control. For the first time in three days, we were still. We swayed gently beneath the waves together, back and forth, back and forth.
Out of the stillness, the LORD appeared to me. God said,
Bring this man to dry land, for he is finally ready for the task at hand!
I swam to the surface and made my way to the shore, as God had directed. When we arrived, I brought the man forth from my belly. The man stepped out from my mouth and onto dry soil. He looked back, took a deep breath, smiled, then headed inland to fulfill God’s plan for him.
As for me, I retreated back into the watery deep, marveling that God would choose me to help a fellow creature in need–especially one so very different than I.