Have the pressures of the dailies made you feel like need or want to escape? Sometimes we all feel like we need to get away. I know I have often felt that way in my life. After listening to much depressing news on the television, feeling the tension of relationships and days where there is just too much noise, I feel the need to escape.
It is so hard trying to keep so many people happy, and I feel extremely frustrated at times. Sometimes I think just running away would be easier and better for everybody concerned, but every time I think of that, today’s devotion is a reminder to me because, being AWOL is not where we want to be in our lives. This is what happened in the Old Testament to a prophet named Jonah.
In the story of Jonah, God tells him to go to a place called Nineveh and preach but he didn’t want to go. Jonah was willing to do God’s work as long as it suited his own purposes, but being merciful to Nineveh was not something that Jonah wanted to do, so instead, he chose to disobey and journeyed to Tarshish to try to hide from God. (Seriously? Hide from God?) While on a ship towards Tarshish, God sent a mighty storm that was so fierce that everyone on board was afraid for their survival. Jonah knew the storm was due to his lack of obedience, so he asked the crew to throw him overboard in order to save their lives. Immediately, God calmed the sea and prepared a great fish (AKA, whale) to swallow Jonah. Jonah stayed in the great fish’s belly for 3 days and 3 nights before he repented and prayed for God’s help.
In Jonah 2: 6-9, Jonah cried to the Lord this prayer, “The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, LORD my God, brought my life up from the pit.“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.“Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the LORD.’”
After he prayed, God commanded the great fish to spit him out on to dry land. It was then that God told Jonah, once again, to go to Nineveh. This time Jonah chose to obey God.
You see, God who can calm the storms in your life is the same God who can stir them up to a great frenzy. When we keep persisting in disobedience, He gets rougher. He begins gently, but in the end, He sends the tempest. If you are on the run, don’t believe God is going to ignore it. He is going to work to wake you up to see the consequences of your actions. It is also important to understand, even if you cannot see the rainbow yet, that there is a blessing in the end. I find it wonderful to know that God pursues us even though we are stubborn and rebellious. I am thankful that He never gives up on me. Like in the story of Jonah, God even gives us second chances.
When I think of Jonah being in this great fish for 3 days before he asked God for help, I couldn’t help but think about how long we allow ourselves to stay miserable to avoid our problems. Whether it’s our relationships, our mental or physical health, you can chose to do what is right or, like Jonah, you can put it off and stay miserable for a little longer. The decision is all yours to make.
Max Lucado wrote, “If there are 1000 steps between you and God will take 999 of them and leave the last one for you.”
There are so many times that we rebel against what we know we must do. We also share the attitude and think “you can’t make me” or “that’s not fair” especially when it comes to relationships. (I know I have.) We pout, we rebel, we disobey, act like stubborn when we know we shouldn’t, and we try to “hide” from everyone and everything that reminds us of what we are supposed to be doing.
Hiding is useless. Pretending that everything is okay is pointless. Running away is restless. God is always present with us. God’s presence is unseen, but it is more real than life itself. So, it is important to understand that we cannot escape God. The cool thing about this is that God accepts us as we are and He loves us too much to leave us that way.
You can only be on the run so long. It is time for you to get to your Nineveh. Are you running away? Is God asking you to do something that you are fighting? Take the time today to turn around and run to God and discover the joy that comes with His salvation and with doing His will.