Are You Running From God?
This week in Youth Group we began our study in the Book of Jonah by looking at Jonah 1:1-3. These first three verses set up the entire story. God’s word comes to Jonah telling him to “go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” This is a tall order for any man, but one we would expect for a prophet of God. And we would expect, like any other prophet, for him to go. But Jonah does something unexpected and fascinating. He runs! He actually tries to run away “from the presence of the Lord.” This is a man who knew God. He knew God’s character. He knew God’s word and he certainly would have known Psalm 139 which says, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” Everyone knows you can’t run from God. Yet Jonah runs. Why? Well, we don’t get the answer to that question until the end of the story, and we’ll look at this reason in later posts, but the bottom line is that Jonah runs from God for selfish reasons.
Are you running from God? Maybe a better question is are you trying to run from God? Are you like Jonah, knowing the things of God but ignoring them because of selfish reasons? Jonah couldn’t see the foolishness of his actions, and neither do we. So often we think there is a better way. A happier way. A way that leads to real peace, hope, love, and joy. But running from God never takes us where we want to go. Jonah thought he could take a ship, even pay the fare for a ship, to get away from God. He never got to where he was going, and neither will we. Donald Barnhouse wrote, “It is always that way. When you run away from the Lord you never get to where you are going, and you always pay your own fare. On the other hand, when you go the Lord’s way you always get to where you are going, and he pays the fare.”
God’s way is always the best way. Even when the world around you is screaming for you to go another way, don’t believe them. Jesus, who is the true and greater Jonah, told us that he is way, truth and life. Trust in him, his ways, his plans, his truth, and he will carry you to where you are going. And he will pay the fare!