“The word of the Lord came to Jonah: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’ But Jonah ran away from the Lord.”—Jonah 1:1-3
Sometimes running away from the Lord is the first step toward obedience.
Jonah faced a daunting task, which he resented and resisted. Not gutsy enough to say no to God, he jumped on a ship to get out of town. Hoping God would forget? Out of sight out of mind?
If you aren’t familiar with what happened to Jonah when he set out to sea and ended up in the belly of a whale, you can read the rest of his story in the Old Testament. But the point is, God sometimes chooses people who will run at first, because He plans to meet them wherever they go.
Jonah reminds me of Moses. In an amazing, miraculous encounter, God spoke to Moses in a burning bush. Moses took off his shoes, recognizing that he stood on holy ground, heard God’s plans for his life—and then began second guessing the wisdom of God in choosing him as the deliverer of His people. He wanted to run away.
We all run at times, only to discover as King David did:
“Where can I go from your Spirit?” David asked. “Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 1397-10).
David expresses what Jonah experienced, what Moses discovered, what each of us will learn as we walk with God. We can run, but He will there, out of love, helping us to fulfill our gifts and talents and answer His call upon our lives.
Some people just don’t discover what is best for them until they try to run away and find that God is a God of pursuing love.