Running from God
Jonah 1:1–3 (ESV): 1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.
Have you ever felt like you can relate to the story of Jonah? Personally, I’ve felt pretty convicted at times while reading the story, almost pointing to the pages and saying, “That’s ME!” While this narrative isn’t about me or you personally, it’s ultimately about Jesus, it can shed some light on our own inner conflicts.
Jonah was called to ministry, but it wasn’t just any missions trip. His target audience was a civilization that he despised. His objective was to bring the Word of God to a wicked people, people that Jonah didn’t want to see saved from the wrath of God. To succeed in his calling was to see evil people turn from their ways and receive the forgiveness of God. Jonah didn’t want to succeed, so he ran.
I feel that one deeply. I’ve been there. No, God didn’t tell me to go prophesy to the Ninevites, or even to my own enemies, but I’ve felt led to do things sometimes that conflict with my own desires. That conflict led Jonah to flee to another place, sometimes it just causes us to sit on our bums and just not do anything. Either way, you just can’t run from God. He will fulfill His purposes, even if He has to choose someone else to go, but He’d rather have our obedience than have to go that route.
It’s easy to look back on a story like Jonah’s from so long ago, knowing how it turns out, and make judgements about how foolish he was to try and run from God, but we do it too in our own ways. Unlike in the tale of Jonah, we can’t forsee our own ending, but I can guarantee you this; it never works out to run from God. It’s never even in our own best interest to run from His calling. We may think we know what’s best for ourselves, but He wouldn’t have called us to something if it wasn’t the best path for us to take. For Him and for us.
There are many lessons to learn from Jonah, and we’ll be looking at more of them, but one takeaway is to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV)