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  • Writer's pictureLaura Kae

In the Belly of the Whale

The sequel to “The Penny” only this one is written in first person and is in an entirely different tone. It is the story of the next segment in my life.

“He said ‘north’. I headed south. Oh, my god! that’s a really big mouth!” the words of my favorite Newsboys song rang in my ear. In spite of my distaste for my current situation, the words provided me with temporary comic relief. There was not much of it to be had these days. After all, I was in the belly of the whale.

I asked Him, “May I?”. He said, “Not now.” I said, “I’m bored.” So I went and did my own thing, followed a rabbit down a rabbit hole into some fantasyland of pleasure and ended up here in the belly of the whale.

There was nothing pleasant about the belly of the whale. It was generally filled with rotten fish, mucus, plankton and an occasional pirate’s hat. Everything about being here sucked. There is nothing glorious about being in the belly of the whale.

Only four short months earlier, I had turned my eyes back to Jesus and promised Him I would only go wherever He led. He gave me a fresh filling of His Spirit then led me to the belly of the whale. A place so humbling pride could not exist, yet self-respect had an opportunity to be born.

I was in the last place on earth I would ever want to be. Death Valley and the Dead Sea would have been a welcome escape from the belly. I hated the belly. It was so hard. But you probably know something about the belly. You probably have been there, too.

It was there in the belly I learned worship. In my desperation, I cried out to Him. Over and over again, I sang with Job and Matt Redman, “You give and take away. You give and take away. My heart will CHOOSE to say ‘Lord, blessed be Your name.’ Blessed be the the name of the Lord…” My voice would break. At times I sang through gritted teeth. And more than once I sat on the cement floor in the back of a pigpen in a humanly deserted barn and wept.

As monotonous hour after monotonous hour passed, I focused on how to survive the belly of the whale. I played games generally inspired by long road trips. I named 101 things God could do that I could not. I remembered the great things He had already done. I listened to Galatians on my mp3 player until I ought to have committed it to memory five times over. “It is for freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery…” I went through the ABCs reciting Scripture I had committed to memory. I offered myself to Him as a living sacrifice, and I counted the days until I could escape the belly of the whale. Jonah only needed three. Apparently I had run farther than Jonah.

246, 245, 244, 243…. every two and a half days I was one percentage point closer to escaping the belly I knew God was asking me to be in. The time passed slower than any other segment of time in history. He was my only hope. My only sustenance. As the days ticked by, I began to see some good in my situation.

But that is a lie. That was merely me in the light. In the dark, the belly of the whale was so different. By day I cried out to my God to save me. By night and on the weekend, I began to numb the pain of the belly with temporary escape. Alcohol, sex and pornography began to rule the night. They crept into my day.

Pain. Never-ending pain.

Yet I cried out to Him. Yet He had mercy on me. In the belly when the storm became too strong for me to stand, He changed me.

41, 40, 39, 38… perhaps it was now I was finally willing to go anywhere God wanted me to go. Do anything He wanted me to do. Give everything I ever wanted on earth to Him.

I was. My own will was laid to rest in the back of a pigpen. It became like an unfortunate jacket an overheated farmer hangs over a fencepost. The pigs get ahold of it and rip it to shreds. God could make my decisions. I was done with that. At least during the day.

“It is for freedom Christ has set us free. Therefore do not let yourselves be…” I drove away from that belly of the whale as soon as the good Lord would allow me. I did not wait one day past the end of my countdown to escape it.

That good Lord, the same one I praised with tears running down my cheeks, had a plan to get hold of my nights, too. He always has been jealous for all of me, never liking to see any of me in pain.

So at the end of the car ride away from the belly, I got spit up on dry land. Come to think about it, like the prophet Jonah I sure did complain a lot those first few months back on land. But the good Lord was gracious to me. He brought me to a school gym and sat me on a cold, hard folding chair. Some young dude got on stage and said, “I would like to echo what so-and-so just said. If you are new here today, I would love to welcome you to Hoboken Grace. I hope you will make yourself right at home….”

Yeah, it was good to be back on dry land.

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