You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide.
“But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction in order to get away from the LORD. He went down to the seacoast, to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping that by going away to the west he could escape from the LORD.” – Jonah 1:3 NLT
Running from God. Sounds idiotic doesn’t it? I mean, who in their right mind would ever think they could get away from God? Yet Jonah decides to ignore God’s command, catch a ship and head off in the opposite direction, somehow hoping that God would not see him and possibly forget about him. But God warns us, “‘Am I a God who is only in one place?’ asks the LORD. ‘Do they think I cannot see what they are doing? Can anyone hide from me? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?’ asks the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:23-24 NLT). The omnipotent, omniscient God is not some old geezer in the sky that we can somehow pull a fast-one over. We can’t run from him. We can’t hide from him. And we certainly can’t say we worship Him if we refuse to listen to Him. Yet that is exactly what Jonah did. When he caught a ride on the ship and it gets caught in a violent storm, Jonah gets exposed as the cause of all their problems. And when they confront him, he simply says, “‘I am a Hebrew, and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.’ Then he told them that he was running away from the LORD. The sailors were terrified when they heard this. ‘Oh, why did you do it?’ they groaned” (Jonah 1:9-10 NLT). Did you catch the irony of Jonah’s statement? “I worship the Lord.” Really? Do you?
You see, worship is about more than going through the motions. It’s about more than words of affirmation and declarations of intent. Jonah could claim to be a God-worshiper, but his actions proved otherwise. He was disobedient and dismissive of the very command of the One he claimed to worship. He talked a good game, but he lacked follow-through. He was going to live life on his terms, not God’s. He worshiped his own agenda, his own opinion, his own desires. Yet when Jonah saw what was going on and that the men in the ship were going to perish because of his disobedience, he confessed his sin and instructed them to throw him overboard – which they eventually did. But death wasn’t to be Jonah’s lot. Deliverance was. But first Jonah was going to have to discover what real worship is all about. He found himself in a lonely and extremely difficult situation – under the water and in the belly of a large fish. That’s a bad day anyway you look at it. Jonah was in trouble and at a loss as to how he was going to get himself out of the fix he was in. So what did he do? He worshiped! He turned to the only one who could rescue and restore him. He called out to God, and in doing so he acknowledged the sovereignty and power of God. “Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish. He said, ‘I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the world of the dead, and LORD, you heard me!'” (Jonah 2:1-2 NLT). Worship is far more than singing songs and attending a service on Sunday. It is a state of the heart. It is a way of life. It involves submission to the will of God. It includes obedience to the Word of God. It requires an understanding of the worth or value of God. Listen to what Jonah said: “When I had lost all hope, I turned my thoughts once more to the LORD. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple” (Jonah 2:7 NLT). Worship is turning our thoughts to the Lord. It is turning our thoughts away from ourselves and all those other things we turn to for hope, help, deliverance, and satisfaction. It is learning to rely, instead of run. It is listening to the Word of God and doing what He tells us to do – regardless of how we feel, what we think, or what others may tell us to do.
Jonah tried to run from God. He thought he could hide from God. But God had a job for him to do. He had a message for him to share. And God has a job for you and me as well. He has a message for us to share, too. Yet just think about how many times we follow Jonah’s lead and run from God’s will. We ignore God’s Word. We reject God’s way for our lives and choose our own. But while you may run from God, you won’t get far. You can try to hide from God, but He’ll always find you. The story of Jonah is really not about him, but it’s about the redemptive plan of God for mankind. It’s about a sovereign God who chooses to use fallen men to accomplish His divine will. God has determined to use people like you and me to accomplish His will in the world. He doesn’t need us. But He chooses to use us. Amazing isn’t it? So why in the world would we ever want to ignore His call and command for our lives? Why would we ever choose to run and hide from God when we can be instruments in His redemptive hands?
Father, I run way too much. I try to hide far too often. I ignore Your Words and reject Your will far too frequently. Forgive me. Thank You for using me. Thank You for choosing me. Thank You for showing patience to me. Give me a view of Your redemptive plan for mankind. Then give me the strength to obey – at all costs. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men