Scripture: Jonah 1:1-3 – The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and peach against it, because its wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for the port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.
Reflection: I have learned how easy it is to replace the name of Jonah with my own name; ‘But Toby ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish’ (I lived in Tarshish for a while). Tarshish for me was mostly about accountability – I didn’t want to be held accountable for what God had for me to do – so I ran.
While I understand the fear of following God, because we fear anything unknown, I also know that God is omnipresent. So even though I’ve done it, now I laugh at this idea of running away from God; it’s a bit of an oxymoron. God is present everywhere, and everything is immediately in His presence. So, we must ask ourselves, what are we trying to prove? We cannot run anywhere God isn’t. Fleeing from God is an exercise in futility (kind of like running on a treadmill – or going nowhere fast).
Let’s think about Jonah for a moment.
Jonah ran from God’s calling, purchased a ticket, and boarded a ship to go somewhere he never expected God to be. If we use the story of Jonah as a guide, we will see that no matter how deliberate we are, if it’s God’s plan, we will still end up in the place, with the person, in the job, doing the thing, we tried so hard to get away from. Jonah purposely went down to the port and purchased a ticket to run away from his calling, and he still ended up in Nineveh doing exactly what he was told to do.
And we can’t be so vain to think that running away from our calling, and buying a ticket to Tarshish, is only about us; that the consequences are only ours to bear. What about those who God will place in our path to help us and, more importantly to me, those we have been sent to care for. Those who are waiting on us to accept our calling, so they can experience the glory of God in their own lives.
Stop running – and listen for God’s word.
Prayer: Forgive me for running. Starting today Lord, I’m no longer fleeing from Your instruction. I’m no longer running from Your will or from Your reproach. Direct my paths and show me the way. I’m ready to listen. I’m prepared to be Your servant, in service to others. Thank You for Your patient ways – and for loving me through my waywardness. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.